Most (all?) of our portfolio companies have been working remotely for over three months now. So have we at USV.
The initial experience with remote work has been mostly positive. The typical comment has been “we are doing a lot better than I expected.” Productivity is up in some places, down in some places, but overall our portfolio companies have adapted to the remote work model quickly and well.
But three months in with no end in sight is starting to wear on companies and I am sensing that the challenges are mounting. The trio of crises we are experiencing; a public health crisis, an economic crisis, and a racial injustice crisis, has everyone on edge and overwhelmed.
Leading a company in this time is very hard. My job mostly entails talking to our portfolio company leaders and I am hearing that they are yearning to be able to walk the halls, look people in the eyes, stand in front of the team, and talk to them face to face. But that is not happening any time soon.
So leadership in this moment means giving everyone a sense of belonging, letting them know they are being heard and that they are valued, and doing that via Zoom, Slack, email, and other software tools. This is uncharted territory for most leaders.
Here are a few things I am hearing that are working for some:
- More frequent short checkins with the entire team
- One on ones with people you don’t normally do one on ones with (skip one or two or three levels)
- Leaning harder on the leadership team to help lead the company
- Giving more time off to the team (shorter days, shorter weeks)
- Celebrating more (birthdays, anniversaries, accomplishments, ship dates, etc)
- Being yourself
I am curious to hear from all of you on what else is working in this challenging time. Please reply below with the “Discuss On Twitter” button and share with me and everyone else. And if you’d like to see everyone’s suggestions, you can click on the “View Discussions” button.