Even though some companies have had remote work and telecommuting arrangements in place for years, the COVID-19 crisis has made these arrangements much more common AND much more permanent. Besides the obvious health and safety benefits due to the social distancing aspect, these arrangements can reduce company operating costs, open new applicant pools to attract better talent, and improve employee retention. But if you're a manager who now has had to unexpectedly take on supervising a remote team, you may be wondering how to do so effectively and not go crazy in trying to keep up with everyone.
I've got some tips to help you navigate this new normal:
1.Establish a schedule to check-in with your team.
It's easy to grow detached from your team when you can't see them in the office. So, whether it's daily, weekly or some other frequency, define a set time to speak with your team members. Take time to talk to them individually, as well as in a group format. Don't make it just about the tasks you've assigned or the deliverables they're working on. Show an interest in them personally so they know that they aren't just a number to you. Working from home can get lonely and create feelings of isolation, so creating those touchpoints will allow your team to feel more connected to one another and to their management.
2.…BUT don’t force video.
I know that video calls are all the rage, particularly for younger millennials and Gen Z-ers, and of course there is the conventional wisdom that the team needs to see each other to feel connected. But if there is anything I've learned from managing my own team remotely through this COVID-19 crisis, it's that not everyone likes video calls. For some of your team members, just picking up the phone and talking is more than enough. In fact, video calls can just feel intrusive or burdensome at times. So be sensitive to the preferred communication styles on your team. It helps to build a stronger relationship with your direct reports if they know that you're considering their needs and feelings, rather than just forcing your methods on them.
Speaking of phones and video, in order to keep your team both connected and organized, incorporate technology options into the daily workflows. Outside of traditional calls and texts, you can use platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Skype for Business to host meetings, organize work tasks, and collaborate in real time. You can also use messaging apps like Slack, where you can communicate instantly, but keep conversations organized and productivity-focused.
4.Set clear objectives and priorities.
With everyone working independently in all that's going on, your team is probably feeling distracted. This is the time for you to outline your expectations and determine what truly needs to be accomplished. Define the scope of the expected team activities and set clear deadlines. But don't just bark orders. Be sure to provide your team with the context as to why the tasks and deliverables are important, as well as how and when you plan to measure success against each of the stated objectives. Armed with this information, the team can remain on task and focused, and you don't have to wonder if they're just sitting at home watching Netflix instead of working.
Does it really matter if everyone on your team is signed on at the same time in the morning? Does everyone need to stay online until 5pm? This is a challenging time for your team, and therefore sticking to "business as usual" and traditional schedules may prove difficult. People may need a little flexibility to manage both home and work since they now overlap more than ever before. For individuals who have children and cannot take them to daycare, they may be unable to work their full day during business hours. Even for those who don't have children, they may have other considerations that may require an alternate schedule. So instead of force-fitting standard work hours and requirements, trust your team and give them the freedom they need to be their most productive and deliver results.
For many organizations, this work from home process has been fluid, to say the least. So ask your team for candid feedback on the working arrangement. Get a feel for what is going well, and what could work better. Assess whether they have the resources they need, or if they need more support. Understand if the tools that are being utilized are effective, or if the team has other suggestions. There is no perfect process or format, and therefore tweaks and adjustments will be required as you get more runtime.
You can successfully lead your team while working remotely. But in order to do so, it takes clear strategy and planning, two-way communication, and flexibility. If you trust your team, they will trust and respect you, which in turn leads to higher motivation and productivity, no matter where they are working from!
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How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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It appears that LeToya Luckett is off the market. The songstress, who got divorced from Tommicus Walker in 2021, surprised her Instagram followers when she uploaded a Reel of how she spent Valentine’s Day. The video was a collage of roses, rose petals in the shape of a heart, dinner, and LeToya walking down a hallway with a man walking behind her. While she didn’t give any further details about who was in the video, she did stop by the Tamron Hall Show and shared that she was in a great place.
“I will say that I am daily, I am spoiled with kindness. I am spoiled with peace. I am spoiled with support. I am spoiled with consistency, love,” she said. “And I have to give it to myself first. But the fact that God saw fit to put it in a form of a man, I won’t complain.”
While we don’t know much else about her new bae, it seems that he is making the mother of two very happy. LeToya went on to share how her new relationship has put her in a blissful state and she finally feels stability.
“You know what, I'm very happy. I have so much peace, y'all. I have so much peace. I'm happy,” she gushed. “And I’ve never really been in this space before because I felt like even since a kid, I've been moving around, trying to figure it out. And then, you know, getting married, having kids, going through a divorce, and moving– it was a lot. You know, and I feel like I'm finally in a place where I'm stable. I'm stable, and I feel good.”
But that’s not all she talked about. The “Torn” singer and Tamron also talked about the importance of having self-esteem and self-worth. LeToya’s Instagram page is filled with stylish photos of the singer, family photos, and positivity. She also has had many exciting career ventures, such as starring in the upcoming BET+ thriller One Night Stay, and most recently hosting TV One’s Urban Honors.
However, when it comes to how she lives her life, she remembers the things her mom taught her, such as turning lemons into lemonade.
“So, you know the world is going to deal you the cards, right? But you have to figure out how you're gonna play them. And it starts with you. It starts with you,” she said.
“I am so glad that I watched my mom do that. And she was the example of that because it taught me that regardless of what happens, what type of lemons life deals you, you've got to turn it into lemonade. You got to make sure your side of the street is clean. Regardless of what everybody else is doing or saying. You got to make sure that you're together, that you believe in yourself. You can't go expecting people to love you, people to respect you, and treat you a certain way. If you don't respect yourself.”
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