Business Isolation – Teams, Remote Working and Community Tips to Act on Now.

Mar 25, 2020 11:43:16 AM

As New Zealand rightly heads into lockdown at alert level four, we have to remind ourselves that now is not a time to panic. Panic is an attempt to act with an absence of knowledge.

Economically, environmentally and medically, we must work together responsibly to flatten the curve of viral transmission, and in doing so be better prepared for our economic recovery.

The conversations around “Social Distancing” are sending the wrong message. More than ever before we need to keep in touch with each other, and, from a business responsibility point of view, this means your teams come first. Think “Physical Distancing” rather than “Social Distancing” and let’s instead create an environment of “Social Embracing”.

In this Post, we Consider:

  • Teams that Work
  • Effective Remote Working
  • Community Help

Teams That Work – 5 things to Consider

  • Effective communication is a priority. This means having more contact than you’ve had previously with your stakeholders, staff and those who are important to you and your business.
  • Prepare your staff for physical – not social-isolation. Your team will be fearful and inexperienced with this rapid societal shift, so be kind and trust that staff will continue to act in good faith. Your job is to give them the tools, support and trust needed.
  • Refer to Government information on the isolation and recovery process, warn against the social media hype and misinformation your staff will likely be exposed to. Look to as a trusted source of information.
  • If you are expecting financial hardship, talk to your bank and IRD now. They are there to help, not judge you. Don’t delay, things are moving fast, and you need to act now. Do what you are best at doing and seek help for things beyond your expertise, such as with your accountant, HR team and Lawyer.
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed, get a business mentor now. They are not financially or emotionally invested in your business; they are motivated about helping business owners and will help put things into perspective. Isolation does not have to be lonely.

Effective Remote Working – 5 things to Consider

  • Be lenient on staff, new situations take adjustment, and they will be in a state of heightened anxiety with concerns for friends and loved ones. Ensure they know you care about their wellbeing, make sure to ask if they are eating well and getting breaks outdoors.
  • Communicate often – use video technology so you can see staff face to face. Microsoft is offering free access to Microsoft Teams for six months which is an excellent remote collaboration tool.
  • Adopt the 3-message e-mail rule. If you have more than three messages in an e-mail thread then pick up the phone. Chances are there is a breakdown or miscommunication happening.
  • Manage expectations with team members. If managers are sending e-mails out of working hours, make it clear that staff are only to respond during working hours. If this is going on, then give your managers some support and training. If there are changes in expected response time and some e-mails require an urgent response then have an agreed notifier in the subject line such as “Urgent Attention Required”. Unclear expectations create anxiety and mistrust.
  • People will feel disconnected even in the best of times and when they are disconnected from their usual environment and workmates, they will feel isolated. People need information, feedback and personal connection - even those you may consider introverted. Be prepared that trust and relationships will take a hit. Leadership is needed now.

Community Matters

The well-meaning and the opportunistic will take advantage of the current situation. Avoid the sensationalistic social media rants and be a steady guide and voice for your team members.

Our business community needs to be wary of new things - if they didn’t exist before there is probably a good reason for that. Give your time and resources to existing channels with a proven ability to provide support to our small business sector. Diversifying and dividing resources now by starting new initiatives will only dilute our ability to act quickly.

If we act together, we will connect circles rather than creating silos built on panic and fear-mongering and we will then be able to react and respond faster to those that need our help.

Business Mentors New Zealand has invested 30 years and helped over 70,000 business owners make better decisions. We have experienced and knowledgeable Business Mentors available now who can work with those who want to be helped.

Visit the Business Mentors New Zealand website at if you would like to be matched with one of our skilled Business Mentors.