8 Ways Teams Can Be More Effective While Working From Home Remote work is here to stay. Eight founders share the valuable lessons they've learned about their staff.
We asked eight of the entrepreneurs featured on our 100 Powerful Women list: What did you learn about your team as the world shifted to remote work?
"I was most pleasantly surprised by the peer-to-peer connection and coaching that developed as a result of working remotely. It's something our team of four initiated — via Slack! — and it's helped them manage the physical and emotional isolation as time wore on. At such a young stage, we're still flexible and loosely structured, so these relationships are part growth and performance goals for the company, part compassionate support as they meet personal challenges." — Karen Young, Founder and CEO of Oui the People, a premium shaving products company
"When the pandemic hit, I'd been at Five Four Ventures only a few months. Technology can fill the gap on the operational side of distance, but affinity comes from human beings finding new ways to interact. I learned to personalize my approach, to ask what would work for each team member (daily meetings versus being available when needed), and to be sensitive to the mental drain this situation creates. We took a mental health day in April, and the boost in morale and efficiency was so tangible. Now we keep every Friday afternoon open for mental health and wellness." — Rachel ten Brink, Partner of Five Four Ventures, a VC firm that invests in digitally powered consumer brands
"We have had to completely adjust our approach to business, from restrategizing product launches to focusing heavily on our digital styling appointments as our retail stores temporarily closed. We even began to shoot our campaigns from home. Despite these shifts, the team continues to be completely dedicated to providing customers the best experience possible. Their ability to embrace ambiguity during this time has challenged me to be a better leader." — Noura Sakkijha, Cofounder and CEO of Mejuri, a D2C jewelry startup with fourfold year-over-year growth
"We had a hiring spree weeks before COVID-19 struck and had to realign our onboarding strategies, but our team was energized by the challenge. Our Microsoft Teams status circles were like individual pulses — I had to beg people to get offline on Saturday afternoons! They would say, "No, I'm having fun' or "I'm not working, I'm just video chatting with a teammate.' Additionally, staff converted freezers and spare rooms to sample storage. They got friendly with the UPS staff. They got creative with bonding exercises. I learned that I employ superheroes!" — Ayeshah Abuelhiga, Founder and CEO of Mason Dixie, a frozen pastry brand sold in more than 5,000 stores
"We built The Laundress with the spirit of grit and agility, and our culture today is a testament to our bootstrapped days. As founders, there's no job Lindsey and I have not done or would not do. These fundamentals guide our team, so a hard operating pivot under the duress of COVID-19 was met with bright ideas, sleeves rolled up, and openness. Our sense of community has emerged even stronger." — Gwen Whiting, Cofounder (right), with Lindsey Boyd, cofounder, The Laundress, an eco-friendly cleaning-product company acquired by Unilever in 2019 for a reported $100 million
"The shift to remote work has revealed the power of interconnectivity, which goes beyond making sure our team is aligned workwise. We are navigating two pandemics: COVID-19 and systemic racial injustice. Internally, we have put a focus on creating a safe space where our team members can openly share their thoughts and experiences and practice vulnerability and empathy. With every exchange, I have been able to learn more about each team member. That sense of camaraderie helps us show up for our girls in an authentic, caring, and impactful way." — Kimberly Bryant, Founder and CEO of Black Girls Code, a nonprofit that introduces young girls of color to computer science
"From the very early days of Modsy, we invested in remote employees. We didn't want geography to prevent us from hiring top talent, so by 2020, 60 percent of our workforce was already remote. The transition to becoming fully remote has been one of the bright spots amid a very challenging year. It's leveled the playing field and helped our remote teams feel more in the loop. It's made us become better communicators. And it's driven the need for ruthless prioritization. There's so much chaos and uncertainty in the world, so we've created new clarity and focus." — Shanna Tellerman, Founder and CEO of Modsy, a digital interior-design tool
"At the onset of remote work, I knew I had to lead by example to remain positive and continue building the brand with intent and purpose, but it was quickly evident that my team kept me just as motivated and focused as I did them. Each member really stepped up to ensure Live Tinted would come out on top — it's a testament to the power of growing slowly and working with people who are genuinely excited about what they do every day." — Deepica Mutyala, Founder and CEO of Live Tinted, an inclusive beauty brand
Check out more stories from our October/November issue's list of 100 Powerful Women.