From office to remote leadership: How to adjust your approach

PTC CIO Abbas Faiq shares some of the concrete ways he ensures his teams feel supported while working remotely
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Like many organizations across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work. We’re more reliant on collaboration technologies than ever before – they are our lifeline to maintain communication among teams and customers and help us get work done. It’s also highlighted the importantance of our digital journey. As a result, some of our digital transformation projects have been expedited. 

Of course, this new way of work has been hard, too. Our teams are adjusting to remote work, balancing family, and schooling children. As a result, it’s been more important than ever for me, as the CIO, to make sure my teams feel supported.

[ What can leaders do to support teams working remotely at a time of much uncertainty? Read also: How to lead in the age of newly remote teams. ]

I’ve done this in a few ways. First, I’ve become more visible not just to my direct reports, but to extended team members as well. Back when we were in the office this was easy – I’d walk around and talk to people. Now that we’re remote, I can’t do that. Instead, I’ve started periodically joining extended leadership team meetings to give updates and let people know that I’m available if anyone needs me, just like I was when we were working in the office. 

Second, I’m encouraging my managers to be empathetic and show it in their actions. Working remotely has turned the traditional work day on its head, for example. Some people are up working at 6:30 a.m. and others are working late into the night. This can make it feel like a never-ending work day.

I’m encouraging my managers to set boundaries, and I’m walking that walk, too. If I send an email at 7 p.m., for example, I’ll tell the recipients that I don’t need a response tonight – tomorrow is fine. If my managers are encouraging people to log off at the end of the day, maybe they don’t even send that email at night because it can wait. Practice what you preach.

Additionally, we’re noticing that people are not taking time off from work now that everyone is home. People need a break now more than ever, and so we’re encouraging our staff to take time for themselves to disconnect and recharge, whether it’s a half day, full day, or two days.

In these unprecedented times, it’s important to display your leadership, support your teams, and practice empathy. We’ll get through this together.

[ Read also: Digital transformation: 4 ways to plan for the post-pandemic normal. ]

Abbas Faiq, CIO for PTC, is a recognized technology leader well known for creating highly productive and strategically business aligned IT organizations.  He has over 25 years of experience in successfully managing technology functions in healthcare/life sciences, high tech and consumer goods industries.