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Contact Manar Morales at manar@dfalliance.com for more information on customized training webinars and other ways the Alliance can advise your employees working remotely during COVID 19 and beyond. Or schedule a complimentary introductory call today.

Contact Manar Morales at manar@dfalliance.com for more information on customized training webinars and other ways the Alliance can support your organization during COVID 19 and beyond. Or schedule a complimentary introductory call today.

Washington, DC – October 21, 2020 –The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance will hold its Annual Conference, Moments of Impact: Transforming Organizational Culture at 12:00 noon EST on Thursday, November 5. The event, held virtually this year, will bring together leaders and experts in diversity and flexible working and share cutting-edge strategies critical to the transformation of the future of the workplace. Registration is open to the public and more information is available here.

“In this challenging year, diversity and flexibility are at the forefront of every organization’s priorities. We believe these issues will be essential to reimagining the future of the workplace, now and post pandemic,” said Manar Morales, President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. “We will provide attendees with the latest trends and best practices in flexible working and leave policies, guidance from diversity experts, and insights from leaders and peers. Anyone passionate about transforming his or her organization’s culture should be part of this conversation,” she added.

Leaders, General Counsel, Diversity Directors, Human Resources executives and Chairs from corporations like Booz Allen Hamilton, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, trade associations, financial services firms, and prominent law firms, will share personal experiences and valuable insights into their visions for the future of work. The Alliance will reveal the latest research and trends in diversity & inclusion and work flexibility, as well as innovative leave policies.

Susan Neely, President & CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) will receive the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance’s 2020 Luminary Award, which honors a global thought leader who is consistently and uniquely devoted to the advancement of diversity and whose vision is leaving a lasting legacy of inclusivity for future leaders. (See detailed press release here.)

Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40, will present this year’s keynote, Its All About the People, and will share his people-first philosophy that has consistently resulted in 93% employee engagement. Other highlights from diversity and inclusion thought leaders include: How to Make this Time Different presented by Verna Myers, Vice President of Inclusion Strategies, Netflix; and, How to Secure a Seat at the Table featuring Minda Harts, author of The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Do to Secure a Seat at the Table.

Forty-six law firms with 50% or more women in their 2020 new partner class will be recognized with the Tipping the Scales award in recognition of their commitment to the advancement of women.

The Alliance will also present the following awards to individuals, leaders, and organizations that are leading the way in successfully implementing flexible work:

  • The 2020 Flex Leader Award will be presented to Barri Rafferty, Executive Vice President, Head of Communications, Wells Fargo for her extraordinary commitment to flexibility and her personal philosophy that allowing all employees to work on their own flexible schedule creates increased employee empowerment and engagement. (See detailed press release here.)
  • The 2020 Flex Impact Award, which recognizes initiatives that are poised to have a significant impact on the culture of flexibility, will be presented to law firms, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Katten, Muchin Rosenman LLP. (See detailed press release here.)
  • The 2020 Flex Success Award, acknowledges law firm partners who achieve success while working a reduced hours schedule and their clients who have been integral to making their flexibility a success. This year’s honorees are Sharon Newlon, Member, Dickinson Wright and her client Sara von Bernthal, Senior Counsel, Real Estate, Office of the General Counsel, FCA USA LLC; Lucy Bickford, Partner, Schiff Hardin LLP and her client Andrea Coloff, Regional Fiduciary Officer, Bank of America Private Bank; and, Emma Mata, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP and her client Suzanne Davies, Vice President, Legal & Corporate Secretary, Ensign Energy Services Inc. (see detailed press release here.)

The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance is a think tank that collaborates with organizations to develop non-stigmatized flexible work policies that promote inclusive work cultures and help to advance more women into leadership positions. The Alliance provides practical research-based solutions, training workshops, and strategic advisory services that increase organizational effectiveness through diversity and flexibility.

 

Contact: Manar Morales

manar@dfalliance.com

202-957-9650

Awards to be presented at Diversity & Flexibility Alliance Conference on November 5

Washington, DC – October 21, 2020 — The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance announced today that its 2020 Flex Impact Award Honorees are law firms, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Katten, Muchin Rosenman LLP. The Flex Impact Awards, which recognize initiatives that demonstrate a significant impact on the culture of workplace flexibility, will be presented during the Alliance’s virtual annual conference on Thursday, November 5, 2020. Registration information is available here.

Akin Gump

Akin Gump was selected because of its comprehensive flexible working initiative that is supported by an exceptionally strong and effective infrastructure. Akin Gump’s program is unique in that it includes a high level of accountability, technology, tracking, training, communication and support for employees. Last year, prior to the onset of COVID-19, the firm hired additional technology support staff and upgraded technology capabilities and equipment to better serve those working remotely and traveling. Firm chairperson Kim Koopersmith and Practice Group Managers across the firm routinely track flex usage and productivity, and flexibility is a permanent variable in the firm’s evaluation process. Additionally, since the onset of the pandemic, Ms. Koopersmith has sent regular firm-wide emails offering support and empathy for employees juggling working remotely with caregiving.

“At Akin Gump, we have long understood that being an inclusive firm means believing that we can provide seamless and exceptional service to our clients while respecting the need for flexibility in how our work is done,” said Ms. Koopersmith. “We have never been more appreciative of our longstanding commitment to flexibility and support for agile working arrangements than in these challenging times.  We long ago made sure that our employees were well-supported and had access to all of the tools needed to be productive both in and out of the office. That has been a huge advantage and one that has served us well. Not only has it proved successful in meeting our clients’ needs, but our most valuable contributors—our people—have felt the support of a firm that truly cares,” she added. “We are absolutely thrilled to be a recipient of the Flex Impact Award, and will use it to help sustain and further the culture of flexibility and inclusiveness that we’ve worked hard to instill throughout the firm.”

“We selected Akin Gump for its innovative and comprehensive flexible working initiative,” said Manar Morales, President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. “Akin Gump prioritized programs and policies that established flexibility as a tenant of its firm culture. In doing so, the firm serves as an example of how a commitment to a flexible work environment, bolstered by firm-wide infrastructure and leadership buy-in, can lead to increased productivity, client satisfaction, employee retention, and firm morale,” she added.

Katten

Katten was selected for its four-week, paid sabbatical initiative that is offered to all Associates once they have completed their fifth year and met their hours’ requirement two out of the three previous years. This initiative, which has been in place since 2012, has allowed Associates to take a trip, dive into a personal project or extend a family leave. All Associates take advantage of this benefit and many plan for the time off long in advance. Katten has also reinforced its philosophy of flexibility by sharing consistent messaging from leadership, providing wellness information, offering parental coaching and caregiver support, and surveying to identify needs during COVID-19.

“The Associate Sabbatical Program reflects the supportive firm culture and flexible work environment we have developed at Katten. The program is one way we reward our Associates for their dedication, and it is a means of enhancing their work-life balance. By offering them the opportunity to temporarily step away from their daily work responsibilities, we give them a chance to recharge and come back to work re-energized,” said Katten Chief Executive Officer Noah S. Heller.

“We are very honored to receive the Flex Impact Award because it spotlights Katten’s deep commitment to providing policies, programs and resources that let our attorneys know they are valued, assist in their career progression, and ultimately empower them to reach their full potential. These offerings help us recruit and retain top talent and boost morale as well as the productivity and creativity of those serving the legal needs of our clients,” Heller said.

“Katten’s four-week Associate Sabbatical is a testament to the firm’s commitment to its people and their well being,” said Morales.  “We were impressed by the fact that all Associates offered the sabbatical take it, indicating that firm leadership truly supports the benefits of taking time off to reset. This people-first mentality, endorsed by Katten’s leadership, creates a work environment that is flexible, unbiased, creative and empowering.”

The Diversity and Flexibility Alliance is a think tank that collaborates with organizations to develop non-stigmatized flexible work policies that promote inclusive work cultures and help to advance more women into leadership positions. The Alliance provides practical research-based solutions, training workshops, and strategic advisory services that increase organizational effectiveness through diversity and flexibility.

Contact: Manar Morales

manar@dfalliance.com

202-957-9650

Flex Leader Award to be presented During Virtual Conference on November 5

Washington, DC – October 21, 2020 – The Diversity and Flexibility Alliance has announced that Barri Rafferty, Executive Vice President, Head of Communications, Wells Fargo will receive its 2020 Flex Leader Award. The Flex Leader Award recognizes an executive who is moving his or her organization toward a more inclusive workplace through holistic flexibility. The Award will be presented on Thursday, November 5, 2020, during the Alliance’s virtual annual conference Moments of Impact: Transforming Organizational Culture. Registration is available here.

Ms. Rafferty was selected because of her extraordinary commitment to flexibility and her personal philosophy that allowing all employees to work on their own flexible schedule creates increased employee empowerment and engagement. In her previous role as Global President & CEO of Ketchum Public Relations, Ms. Rafferty led the development and implementation of an initiative that enabled the entire agency to transition to 100% flexible work schedules. Every team member, in every office worldwide, was offered the opportunity to work when and where he or she chose. Ms. Rafferty ensured that the same level of flexibility was available to employees of all levels and personally confirmed compliance across the board by meeting with senior management, providing annual flexible working trainings and implementing pulse polls to track success. Over four years with the new working structure, the agency saw an increase in productivity, employee satisfaction, engagement, team cohesion, retention and recruitment.

“Barri’s story is the perfect case study for how to successfully incorporate holistic flexible working options into an organization’s culture,” said Manar Morales, President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. “Barri believes in a flexible workplace that leverages workplace flexibility to meet the needs of all employees.  The Alliance is pleased to honor Barri with our Flex Leader Award, for her exemplary leadership and share her vision for creating a more inclusive culture that values workplace flexibility as a business imperative.”

“At no cost to a company, flexibility can be the highest value perk you can offer to employees,” said Barri Rafferty.  “When employees have control of their schedules to plan work life integration, you increase their productivity, engagement and their work product. Flexibility became both a recruiting and retention tool for us,” she added.

The Diversity and Flexibility Alliance is a think tank that collaborates with organizations to develop non-stigmatized flexible working policies that promote inclusive cultures and help to advance more women into leadership positions. The Alliance provides practical research-based solutions, training workshops, and strategic advisory services that increase organizational effectiveness through diversity and flexibility.

 

Contact: Manar Morales

manar@dfalliance.com

202-957-9650

Award to be presented at the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance Virtual Conference on November 5

Washington, DC – October 21, 2020 – The Diversity and Flexibility Alliance will honor Susan K. Neely, President & CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), with its 2020 Luminary Award. This award recognizes a global thought leader who is consistently and uniquely devoted to the advancement of diversity and whose vision is leaving a lasting legacy of inclusivity for future leaders. The Alliance will present the award to Ms. Neely on Thursday, November 5, 2020, during its virtual annual conference Moments of Impact: Transforming Organizational Culture. Registration is available here.

Ms. Neely is being recognized for her significant contributions to the advancement of women and diverse professionals within her industry and beyond. Throughout her career, she has consistently demonstrated a deep commitment to volunteering her time and leadership skills to initiatives aimed at impacting gender parity as well as diversity and inclusion. She recently announced the launch of the ACLI Economic Empowerment and Racial Equity initiative aimed at helping all Americans access tools and resources to help them thrive and succeed. In addition, she currently serves on the Steering Committee of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Equality of Opportunity Initiative, which is developing solutions to bridge opportunity gaps to ensure that people of color have greater opportunities to succeed. As President & CEO of ACLI, Ms. Neely also helped lead the first-ever Women & Diversity in Insurance Conference last February, which focused on the economic empowerment of women, the advancement of women in leadership, family medical leave and diversity and inclusion within the industry.

In addition to her impressive career, which includes senior positions in the George W. Bush White House and the first U.S. Homeland Security Department, advising Members of Congress, and more recently at the helm of the American Beverage Association, Ms. Neely has been recognized as the Trade Association CEO of the Year by CEO Update, one of Washingtonian’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, Washington Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business, as well as the first woman president of the Washington Rotary Club and The University Club of Washington.

“The Alliance is thrilled to present Susan with our Luminary Award,” said Manar Morales, President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. “Susan embodies everything this award represents. In the organizations she has led and the positions she has held, Susan has demonstrated a strong commitment to the economic empowerment of women and to creating a flexible and inclusive workplace that values everyone. Her forward thinking approach to diversity, inclusion and workplace flexibility is an inspiration, and we are honored to name Susan as our 2020 Luminary Award recipient.”

“I’m honored to receive this award from the Alliance and commend their work in support of inclusive work cultures and helping more women advance into leadership positions,” Neely said. “I’m also proud to work for an industry whose leaders are committed to addressing economic and racial inequities that have challenged our nation for far too long. Last week, we reaffirmed this commitment with the launch of our Economic Empowerment and Racial Equity initiative. The kick-off of this work is marked by ACLI’s Board of Directors being among the first association boards to have all its members sign the Pledge for CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion. Together, we will help all Americans build habits and knowledge that lead to financial security.”

The Diversity and Flexibility Alliance is a think tank that collaborates with organizations to develop non-stigmatized flexible work policies that promote inclusive work cultures and help to advance more women into leadership positions. The Alliance provides practical research-based solutions, training workshops, and strategic advisory services that increase organizational effectiveness through diversity and flexibility.

Contact: Manar Morales

manar@dfalliance.com

202-957-9650

2020 Flex Success® Awards to Be Presented to Dickinson Wright,

Schiff Hardin & Seyfarth Shaw Partners & Clients on November 5

Washington, DC – October 21, 2020 – Today the Diversity and Flexibility Alliance announced that its 2020 Flex Success® Award honorees will be: Sharon Newlon, Member, Dickinson Wright and her client Sara von Bernthal, Senior Counsel, Real Estate, Office of the General Counsel, FCA USA LLC; Lucy Bickford, Partner, Schiff Hardin LLP and her client Andrea Coloff, Regional Fiduciary Officer, Bank of America Private Bank; and, Emma Mata, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP and her client Suzanne Davies, Vice President, Legal & Corporate Secretary, Ensign Energy Services Inc.

The Flex Success® Award recognizes Partners at Diversity & Flexibility Alliance member law firms who have achieved success while working a reduced hours schedule as well as a client who has been integral to making workplace flexibility so successful. The Awards will be presented on November 5, 2020 during the Alliance’s virtual annual conference, Moments of Impact: Transforming Organizational Culture. Registration is available here.

“With support from their firms, these exceptional attorneys honored with our Flex Success® award have risen to Partnership levels and provided excellent client service while working a reduced hours schedule,” said Manar Morales, President and CEO of the Alliance. “The clients we are recognizing have demonstrated their belief that success can be achieved outside the confines of a traditional work schedule. Together, these attorney/client pairs are perfect examples of how leadership, collaboration, and clear flex policies can lead to the achievement of both professional and personal goals.”

Sharon Newlon and Sara von Bernthal

Sharon Newlon, Member and Practice Group Co-Chair for Environmental, Energy & Sustainability in Dickinson Wright’s Detroit office, has been working a reduced hour schedule since the birth of her son twenty-two years ago and currently works a 75% reduced hour schedule. Recognized as a leader in her field by Best Lawyers in America, Sharon was instrumental in creating an initiative that allowed income members the option to become consulting members, with a negotiable billable hour requirement, in an effort to introduce flexibility into their careers. Sharon’s longtime client, Sara von Bernthal, Senior Counsel, Real Estate, Office of the General Counsel, FCA USA LLC, will also be honored for her ongoing support of Sharon and her schedule.

“I’m honored to receive the Flex Success® Award alongside Sara von Bernthal from FCA,” said Sharon Newlon. “Throughout my career, flexibility has been a cornerstone of building a rewarding practice within the legal industry. I’m grateful to Dickinson Wright, my colleagues and clients for being such great partners with me to create relationships that helped us attain our professional and personal goals,” she added.

“I’m honored to receive the Flex Success® Award alongside Sharon,” said Sara von Bernthal. “I’ve worked with Sharon for many years and we both know how important a flexible workplace is to female lawyers, especially working moms. I hope that promoting flexibility within our respective companies will lead to younger generations, especially women, realizing that they can have rewarding, successful careers that achieve their professional and personal goals.”

“Dickinson Wright congratulates Sharon Newlon and Sara von Bernthal on their well-deserved Flex Success® Award,” said Michael C. Hammer, CEO of Dickinson Wright. “Dickinson Wright is committed to working with our lawyers and clients to develop initiatives that promote flexibility within the workplace. We recognize that these important initiatives allow talented lawyers, like Sharon, to do their best work while assisting clients, like Sara, in furthering their diversity objectives while receiving the highest quality legal services. We look forward to working with them to build on their successful partnership.”

Lucy Bickford and Andrea Coloff

Also being honored with the 2020 Flex Success® Award are Lucy Bickford, Partner, Schiff Hardin LLP and her client Andrea Coloff, Regional Fiduciary Officer, Bank of America Private Bank. Lucy has been working a reduced hours schedule for more than seven years and currently works an 85% reduced hours arrangement. Lucy became a partner in January 2019 and credits her advancement to her reduced hours schedule that allowed her to cultivate a sustainable long-term path for her career at Schiff Hardin.

 In 2014, Lucy co-founded Schiff Hardin’s New Moms Group, a go-to network for women returning to work after having a child and advocates on behalf of all attorney parents at the firm, regardless of gender. In 2017, Lucy was chosen as one of the firm’s participants in the LCLD Pathfinder Program, designed for diverse, high-potential, early-career attorneys at LCLD Member organizations.

“Far from being a detriment to my career, my part-time arrangement is the key to having a sustainable long-term path at Schiff,” said Lucy Bickford. “By continuing to strengthen our firm’s flex policies, we will enhance our inclusive culture and solidify realistic and preferable career paths for a broader group of attorneys,” she added. “Andi helps to support my arrangement by setting reasonable and flexible deadlines, even when the matter is time sensitive. Additionally, she is responsive and inclusive in her communications, so our team can rely on her to help us move matters forward efficiently.”

“Lucy’s work product and advice are always excellent. As a working parent myself, I appreciate the importance of flexibility and balance, but I was not even aware of Lucy’s flexible work schedule when we first began working together because it is imperceptible to me as a client. I am so glad that Schiff has made this commitment to diversity and inclusion and that I am able to benefit from and support it,” said Andi Coloff.

“Lucy has proven that you can be a great mom and a great lawyer at the same time,” said Marci Eisenstein, Managing Partner, Schiff Hardin, LLP. “I know that over her years of parenting and working, Lucy has juggled her responsibilities and found ways to balance work and home life. She has shown that you can work a flexible schedule and still be fully committed to your clients and the firm.  We are very proud of her,” she added.

Emma Mata and Suzanne Davies

Emma Mata, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP and her client Suzanne Davies, Vice President, Legal & Corporate Secretary, Ensign Energy Services Inc. will also be honored with the 2020 Flex Success Award on November 5. Emma has been working a reduced hours arrangement of 10% below the annual requirement since she was an Associate in 2011. While on this reduced hours schedule, Emma has been able to make Partner and develop and grow her book of business to yearly receivables of over $1 million. Emma is the Houston office leader of Seyfarth’s Inclusion and Diversity team, former Houston office leader of the Seyfarth Women’s Network, and co-leader of the Houston office Pro Bono team.

Emma and Suzanne have been working together since 2009 and Suzanne has continuously relied on Emma in legal work for Ensign and its subsidiary and affiliate companies contributing to Emma’s continued success at Seyfarth. “The ability to balance my most important role at home and the legal career that I love so much has made me a better mom, a better lawyer, and a happier person,” said Emma Mata.

“As a mom to 8-year old twin boys, flexibility in my career is essential. It requires planning and no small amount of juggling as well. Partnering with external service providers who understand and support that flexibility, such as Emma, help to make my work flow seamless and manageable,” said Suzanne Davies

“We’re so proud of Emma and the impressive career she has established here at Seyfarth,” said Ellen McLaughlin, chair of Seyfarth Women’s Network. “Her own path exemplifies why supporting flexibility is key to gender advancement and talent development.”

The Diversity and Flexibility Alliance is a think tank that collaborates with organizations to develop non-stigmatized flexible work policies that promote inclusive work cultures for all and help to advance more women into leadership positions. The Alliance provides practical research-based solutions, training workshops, and strategic advisory services that increase organizational effectiveness through diversity and flexibility.

Contact: Manar Morales

manar@dfalliance.com

202-957-9650

Washington, DC – July 10, 2020 – Today the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance released highlights from its Pulse Poll: COVID-19 and Re-Entry that emphasized the need for continued focus on inclusion for all employees in office re-entry practices.

The poll was developed to uncover important data and trends related to the approach law firms and corporations are taking during this initial office re-opening phase and to provide advice on best practices. The poll’s questions were related to office re-opening task forces, guidelines regarding which employees could continue to work remotely once states re-open, and the types of resources and training provided to employees.

“While many firms and corporations have pledged their commitment to diversity and inclusion in recent years, their actions as they re-open their offices during the COVID-19 crisis will demonstrate their sincerity and have a meaningful impact on all employees,” said Manar Morales, President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. “While I am pleased to see that a significant number of firms and corporations are focusing on inclusion during office re-openings, I hope that more organizations will follow suit. It’s critical that firms and corporations incorporate D&I professionals in their Office Reopening Task Force, allow requests to continue to work remotely to be “reason-neutral,” and provide necessary virtual trainings,” she added.

The Pulse Poll revealed several noteworthy highlights, including:

  • The vast majority of participants (85.3%) have a task force focused on re-entry and nearly two-thirds of these task forces include a Diversity & Inclusion professional.
  • A significant share of participant organizations will allow all of their employees to work remotely (35.3%) and will use a “reason-neutral” process to determine who can work remotely  (44.1%). However, too many organizations are still limiting which employees can work remotely based upon their function and/or their risk level.
  • A significant share are planning on launching the following trainings: Best Practices for Working Remotely (38.2%, or 13 of 34), Best Practices for Leading Remote Teams (32.4%, or 11 of 34), and Unconscious Bias (23.5%, or 8 of 34).  Only a small number (3 of 34, or 8.8%) indicated they will have no trainings to support re-entry.

The Pulse Poll: COVID-19 AND Re-Entry consisted of responses from 34 law firms and corporations between May 14 and June 5, 2020. The complete report will be available exclusively to members of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance as well as poll participants.

The Diversity and Flexibility Alliance is a think tank that collaborates with organizations to develop non-stigmatized flexible work policies that promote inclusive work cultures and help to advance more women into leadership positions. The Alliance provides practical research-based solutions, training workshops, and strategic advisory services that increase organizational effectiveness through diversity and flexibility.

Contact Manar Morales at manar@dfalliance.com for information on membership in the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance or for guidance on fostering flexibility and inclusion in your organization during this crisis and beyond.

 

Contact: Manar Morales

manar@dfalliance.com

202-957-9650

This article was published  April 16, 2020 in THRIVE GLOBAL.

By Manar Morales, President & CEO, The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

There’s no doubt we’re living through one of the darkest and most uncertain times in modern history. We’re anxious and overwhelmed by the news of so many people affected by COVID-19 and the corresponding financial damage. However, many of us are fortunate to be able to work from home as we shelter in place and distance ourselves from others.  In the midst of so much heartache and chaos, we’re grateful to maintain our professional responsibilities, continue to receive a paycheck and stay home safe with our families.

Ultimately, it’s this gratitude that will help us through this struggle and is critical to remote working success during the pandemic. The most important tool in your crisis-mandated remote working toolkit is mindset. We may not be able to control the chaos around us, but we can control our mindset and outlook. It’s essential to train your mind to focus on what you’re grateful for and what’s going well. Once you’ve focused on the positives, other strategies critical to your remote working toolkit include:

Routine

Create a routine that works for you, your colleagues, and your family. Wake up at the same time and identify blocks of time when you can work most effectively (i.e. early in the morning, late at night, or when the kids are doing online schoolwork). Make sure to communicate these and any changes in timeframes with your team.

Space

Finding a quiet space where you can focus solely on your work will help you transition from your personal responsibilities to your professional obligations. Even without a dedicated home office space, a quiet corner will help you maintain focus and productivity.

Communication

While in person meetings are restricted, virtual and written communication should be increased. Be proactive; outreach to your supervisor and colleagues and make sure to communicate when you’re available for calls and video chats. Provide email updates on projects and express realistic expectations and deadlines. Some projects may be temporarily shifted to the back burner and others will become priorities.

Support

Seek out resources if you need training on new technology or if you need mental health support. Turn to your employee resource group or affinity group for support and connect with peers, mentors, and sponsors.  Provide and solicit feedback on how things are going; be open to solving challenges with colleagues during this unique and difficult time.

Self-Care

It’s important to take care of yourself both mentally and physically, especially during times of crisis.  Take a walk or engage in some kind of physical activity each day. Try to maintain healthy eating habits and reach out to friends regularly.

Flexibility

In a recent article I explained how important it is for business leaders to be optimistic, empathetic, and realistic as they weather the challenges of maintaining  business continuity during this crisis.  It really boils down to everyone being flexible. Dogs will be barking and kids will be heard during phone calls. You may not always be prepared to be on a video call, and that’s OK. It’s really up to all of us to come together, be flexible, and do our best right now.

In time, we’ll return to our physical offices. But in the meantime, care for your families, lean on your friends and co-workers, and rely on these success strategies in your remote working toolkit.

We are here to help you navigate your crisis-mandated telecommuting plan. Please contact Manar Morales to schedule a complimentary call today.

This article was published  April 3, 2020 in THRIVE GLOBAL.

By Manar Morales, President & CEO, The Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

Many organizations around the country have completed their first week or two of transitioning to working remotely. No one knows exactly how long this stay-at-home mandate will last or the extent of the economic or mental health impact. With no clear end in sight, we must prepare for the long haul. Telecommuting 100% of the time for 100% of staff may be the new normal for US businesses and firms for several months.

However, there is a Bright Spot for business leaders during the COVID-19 stay-at-home mandate. This crisis provides leaders with an extraordinary opportunity to demonstrate their gratitude, empathy and commitment to their employees at this pivotal time. My suggestion to business leaders is take this unique opportunity to shine and focus on being optimistic, human, and realistic.

Be Optimistic

Just like Presidents in war time, business leaders are faced with the challenge of setting the tone and sustaining employee morale and engagement. During this crisis-related remote working, it’s essential that business leaders increase their communication to their teams to reassure them and ensure that no one is left feeling isolated or overwhelmed. The more vocal and positive the leader, the less anxious the employees will be. Business leaders must continuously send a message of optimism and hopefulness. Employees will need to sense a “We’re in this together” tone and know that their leaders are there to support them during the crisis.

Be Human

It’s equally important for business leaders to demonstrate their humanity. Undoubtedly, leaders are feeling just as much stress, fear and anxiety as everyone else. It’s critically important for leaders to walk the delicate balance of being positive while also demonstrating that they too are human and they have the same stresses and challenges. Take the time to ask your team members how they are doing personally and share a humorous story about your family life. Explain that babies crying and dogs barking during calls are to be expected. Clearly communicate your schedule of availability and encourage your team to do the same. And, finally, understand that some employees may need remote working training, technology stipends or mental health resources to successfully complete their responsibilities at home.

Be Realistic

The reality is that business leaders will need to temporarily redefine their expectations. While in normal times you may expect to receive immediate responses from your team members, you may now need to be more realistic about deadlines, clarify expectations and prioritize workflow. It’s important to understand that some employees may only be able to work for a few hours at a time while their children are occupied or their babies are sleeping. Understand that some may need to take sick leave if they become ill or to care for sick family members. It’s very important to understand that this is not the same as everyday telecommuting where an employee is expected to perform at the same level as they would in the office. The reality is that with all the obstacles we are facing right now — including school, care center, church, restaurant and gym closures coupled with increased stress, anxiety and illness — this crisis-related telecommuting will look very different.

One day we will go back to business as usual and your employees will remember how they were treated. How do you want to be remembered as a leader? You now have the unique opportunity to increase loyalty…or lose it.

 

We are here to help you navigate your crisis-mandated telecommuting plan. Please contact Manar Morales to schedule a complimentary call today.