Remote Teams Gained Collaboration Confidence with Quick Wins
Although the core remote work capabilities were functional, Hennepin County struggled to get additional equipment to employees’ homes. Gilbertson’s department worked together with vendors to distribute hardware and also worked with Rossman’s HR team to solicit worker feedback and develop solutions.
“We wanted our staff to be agile and meet the residents’ needs,” Gilbertson continued. “Even now, we’re constantly asking for feedback. Is this thing working for you? Or should we try something different?”
In the thick of the pandemic, Stewart and her team at VITA decided to temporarily scrap long-term plans and focus on quick wins.
“Everybody was struggling with how are we going to accomplish this?’” said Stewart. “So ‘quick wins’ suddenly became our motto. What do we have? What can we quickly roll out?”
Stewart described an example.
“We had SharePoint, Teams and Power BI, but none of them had been fully vetted,” she said. “So, we came up with three-week challenges. We’d say, ‘We need a dashboard for X, Y, Z. The data’s coming from seven different systems. Figure out how you might implement this and come back to us.’ That way, the organization was able to shift from project work to quick wins using the tools we had. After they shared it with their teammates and then the business, all of a sudden there was confidence that we could implement things quickly.”
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County Incorporated Work-From-Home Lessons into Practice
The time at home gave both government offices time to develop some best practices, which they plan to continue in the foreseeable future. Stewart and her team saw a continuation of online collaboration and quick rollouts, a skill learned during the pandemic.
Both government teams continue to use communication tools to maintain personal connections and keep morale high. Hennepin County uses Teams along with a variety of other video chat tools.
“During the pandemic, we used communication tools for simple things like a quick check-in or team meetings in the middle of the day,” Rossman said. “People who worked early shifts or late shifts, they could quickly log on, get a little bonding going on and a little morale boost because it was tough, and we didn’t want people to be isolated during COVID. Now, as people are coming back in, many locations are much more collaborative. We’re finding that the tools are definitely working, and I can see them continuing through the future.”
Workplace flexibility has also been a key factor for employee retention.
“We learned a lot during the pandemic about work-life balance, and obviously attracting talent is really important,” VITA’s Stewart said. “We’re looking at different strategies to maintain that flexibility to allow people to still care for their children. The top performers have done a great job, and we want them to continue that way.”
“The call to action is that you need to flex with your employees, or your best talent will not stay with you, hands down,” he said. “Let’s stake my career on that one. So, think proactively and figure out how you can do that.”