Background photo created by ijeab -

In the first part of this article, I considered 3 areas where strategic leadership can lead to added value while remote working in the current lockdown period.  In this second part I look at three further areas and consider some of the likely legacies.

Who best drives creative initiatives?

A common issue with remote working is that creative processes like brainstorming and workshops are harder to carry out.  I definitely share this experience and I’m not entirely sure if it is a lack of suitable tooling or simply a limitation of being human.  An interesting facet of creativity is that each of us “does it” differently and I think that is a key to making the best of “remote creativity”.

Creativity photo created by freepik -

We humans are social creatures who like to spend time with each other

Prescribing one way of being creative is never helpful and when working remotely it’s even less so.  Whatever tooling you choose, it remains important to keep everyone involved rather than let them sit back and watch one person drive.  Be prepared to be flexible in your approach – a video call might not work for everyone as some people will need to do their own preparation before coming together as a group.

Also consider who needs to be involved in creativity initiatives.  While it’s always true that diversity of participants and viewpoints leads to richer outcomes, it is not always necessary that managers need to be involved in every stage.  One of the themes that appears regularly during recent discussions is that leaders who give teams more responsibility are allowing themselves more time to work on strategic issues rather than spending time on minutiae.

Hiring and onboarding

Hiring has almost always involved face-to-face interviews as somebody’s physical presence gives so much instant feedback.  Now that organisations are facing a prolonged period where physical meeting is discouraged or impossible, hiring and the subsequent onboarding need to be performed remotely too.

Woman onboarding Business photo created by yanalya -

it is not always necessary that managers need to be involved in every stage

One thing to remember is that criteria for hiring a remote worker may be different – so consider this when hiring if you imagine you’ll be working in the same location in the future.  Commonly some candidates may have more relevant knowledge and experience, whereas others may possess qualities that allow them to fit in better with teams or grow into other roles. While it’s tempting to consider that someone remote doesn’t need to fit into a team so well, it is in fact exactly the opposite – disruption from someone remote can be considerably harder to remedy than with someone in the same office.  

Onboarding needs to adapt to work remotely rather than to be completely reinvented.  All of the normal things need to happen such as: inclusion in team activities, partnering up with team members to work through examples, and to provide mentoring.  In fact more of each of these things need to be done so budget for extra time spent, partner up new members with multiple people and keep the communication levels very high.  As fitting in with the team is now more taxing, it makes sense that candidates meet the team before onboarding, i.e. during the hiring process.

What are your conscious choices?

The final area where I see leaders differentiate themselves is by consciously making choices.  In a crisis it is normal to get swept up in the disorder. As a leader, you need to look for the earliest opportunity to step out of the torrent and view the situation as a whole so as to survey the situation before deciding which direction to take.  However, stepping out of the mayhem is easier said than done, it is essential however given that things are likely to remain in flux for some time.

My recommendation is to consider one or two things that are reasonable for you to control and work on these first. This is difficult work where we find ourselves limited by our own assumptions and awareness, so it is an ideal topic for working with a trusted advisor or a coach who can help you to identify where to direct limited resources in a time of crisis.

What will happen once people can meet again?

The changes brought about by the pandemic are unprecedented in our lifetimes.  It is impossible to predict what will happen next, but here are some things that I think are likely.

Firstly, there will be lasting changes and many things are unlikely to return to the way there are before.  We humans are habitual creatures, but it takes time to break habits and build new ones. The length of the current period of remote working for many people will easily exceed the period required for habits to change.  Some of these new habits will stick just as, for example, dodging out into the road to keep a 2m distance is already second nature to most of us by now.

Image of women coworking

it is not always necessary that managers need to be involved in every stage

The implications for the future of remote work are clear.  For years many people have been told that they could not do their job remotely – and most are now proving the opposite.  Will employers try to get their employers to return to an office? Perhaps, but employees who wish to do so are likely to be able to continue working remotely at least some of the time.  One consequence of this could be the need for lots of office resizing.

Business travel is also likely to be considerably altered.  It’s been common for employees to travel for meetings, whereas most are coping just fine without travelling – or even finding that some meetings weren’t essential anyway.  Now that travel is by and large ruled out, we are adapting to find new ways to work smartly. The concomitant impact on traffic and the environment are being enjoyed.

However, there will always be a place for meeting together.  We humans are social creatures who like to spend time with each other.  Our working lives are (or should) also provide important social fulfilment.  I think this shouldn’t be underestimated and could become an overriding factor.

Dan Smith is a CTO Craft Coach and consultant, with particular interest in how leaders can harness technology successfully. Contact me at