Lessons Learned From The Day the World Went Remote

June 10, 2021

By Brandon Gilliam

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Remember January of 2020?

It's Monday and you have just finished your busy commute to work. You get to your desk and everyone is talking about their weekend adventures — the venues they went to, the gatherings they enjoyed, the people they met, and the weekend that always seems to go way too fast.

Fast forward to March of 2020.

You wake up and commute from your bed to your computer.

You aren't seeing the usual faces anymore, but you do have a new set of coworkers: spouses, parents, roommates, and the ones who are happiest you are working from home, our kids and pets.

You wonder what the future will bring.

The statistics show remote work is here to stay. A Gartner survey of company leaders found that 80 percent plan to allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time after the pandemic ends, and 47 percent will allow employees to work from home full-time.

In a PwC survey of 669 CEOs, 78 percent agree that remote work is here to stay for the long-term.

The ANA was lucky enough to have started virtual team training workshops quite some time before the pandemic. However, we, like so many others, had to learn quickly how to run an entirely virtual business.

So here are some best practices we have learned along the way for effectively running a virtual event.

For all participants:

  • Ensure Connection. Connect your laptop/computer directly to the router or to an extender (when possible) and use your phone's hotspot as an emergency backup when the unexpected occurs.
  • Use Headphones. A great tool to block out background noise for yourself and for those on the other side of the screen.

For hosts, presenters, and platform administrators:

  • Have FUN. Don't be afraid to briefly invite pets, babies, or any other part of the real world into your 2D meeting to liven it up and remind everyone we are all in this together!
  • Encourage Open Dialogue. We always start our meetings with an engaging question, such as "Where are you traveling when safe to do so?" Once attendees have written in the chat for the first time or unmuted their mics, they are likely to continue communication throughout.
  • Practice Using the Platform. Make sure you, your team and any invited guests/speakers are familiar with the platform, and schedule time to demonstrate how the platform will be used for the meeting.
  • Test Ahead of Time. Always have participants open the link early to make sure everyone can access the software and that audio/video are working correctly.
  • Make it Interactive. Virtual fatigue is real, so combat it with breaks, polls, whiteboards, or even a group stretch.
  • Offer an Incentive.The best way to keep attendees on the full duration is to give something away at the end, such as a leave-behind or a gift card.

Use these tips to embrace the hybrid work model and make the best of this new normal.

To see how we put these tips into action, be sure to view our full Workshop Catalog. The ANA is offering courses to help teams work remotely, such as "Building Virtual Teams that Drive Growth" and "Enhancing Time Management and Productivity Skills for Remote Teams."


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