Hanging Together – Practical Ways to Reduce Isolation and Build Teamness
As we look around from our remote working sites, we are so grateful to everyone in the healthcare community – providers, administrators, faculty, staff, students – for showing us how to mobilize with strength and integrity. It’s a challenging time. When we put out our new digital magazine on moral distress and moral injury two months back, little did we know that we all would be called on for moral resilience – as health care folks, as parents, as children and members of our local, state and world communities.
How we can help
We have been thinking about how we – as members of one interprofessional center – could help. We want to be practical and not add to everyone’s stress and work. Our faculty, staff and students at Arizona State University are doing an incredible job shifting to totally online platforms. Our clinical partners are totally focused on building capacity and protecting our communities and health care team members – all as it should be.
One small thing we felt we could contribute is sharing practical ways we’ve learned from our own work and from education and practice members of the Arizona Nexus, and our national interprofessional colleagues and networks, to work as virtual teams and to teach teamwork and collaboration at a distance.
So here it goes – us reaching out to you, to share what we’re doing. This is the first article in our new blog series, Teaming at a Distance.
Our team’s suggestions for teaming remotely
The CAIPER team has been working remotely for years – and we think we’ve been doing it very well. Here’s a few thoughts from each of our team members about what makes for good remote teaming.
We've learned how to work across different time zones and individual schedules. We meet our deadlines and deliverables and capitalize on the flexibility remote work can offer. Some of the things I think are most important to virtual teaming are having regular meeting times and utilizing online team collaboration tools like Zoom, Google Suite, Slack, Smartsheet and XMind. It’s also essential to know and respect each team member’s role while being flexible and supportive. Attending to each of these have strengthened us as a team, deepened the trust, expanded opportunities for cross-learning, and enhanced the collective creativity we've come to cherish.
Sometimes coffee talks and water cooler check-ins are where the best and most effective connecting happens for a team. These are the times you check in with each other and share important news. Our team builds virtual check-ins into the beginning of every meeting. With all the changes going on right now, it may be hard to find the time and space to connect and it may seem imperative to move directly into work and action. I am proud that our team recognizes the importance of check-ins and protects them even now under trying circumstances. We build them into our virtual meetings and consider them vital for connection, comfort and community.
Video conferencing is a great way to stay connected with your team. Speaking up and being present tend to be more challenging in a virtual environment. Watching the video thumbnails for body language cues that someone has something to say or asking people to contribute helps ensure all team members are heard and included. Drifting off to email and other multitasking can be very tempting in a virtual meeting. Our team tries to reduce this by maintaining eye contact on screen. We discourage calling in and turning off the video unless bandwidth issues are a concern.
As team leader, I encourage having a clear and concise agenda for each meeting – ideally, with times established in advance for each topic. Agenda topics are organized according to priority. The team member most up to date on the topic starts and facilitates the discussion. While my usual preference is to stay action oriented, I’ve learned that including time for discussion and sharing perspectives is essential for engagement and creativity. I have to say that our deep knowledge of IPEC competencies that ground all CAIPER’s work really helps in virtual teaming. We’re all pretty steeped in communication, roles, and collaboration strategies, and we practice them. I think a shared commitment to walk our team talk makes a difference.
Look for new articles and stories from our collaborators, colleagues, partners and friends on how they are learning and practicing new ways to work together at a distance. Check out the next article on Teaming at a Distance, from Dr. Karen J. Saewert, Make it meaningful...