Remote, not Removed. Notes on Lockdown Teamwork

30 Apr by Alicia Vroegop

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Just three months ago, working remotely or from home was the territory of the privileged or unusual, and viewed with suspicion by many businesses. Oh how this has changed. The paradigm has been flipped.

When we have offered remote working as a solution to talent shortages, one of the biggest push-backs has been around people needing to have “face time” in the office and that working remotely is not conducive to good teamwork. Well, that idea has been firmly put to bed. Globally, both large and small businesses are working from their homes, with some fantastic results, and some awesome stories are starting to emerge.

The crucial ingredient to these stories is in the teamwork

So how do you keep the teamwork healthy and productive whilst working remotely?


These times have created a desperate need for strong, clear, honest communication from leaders at every level. Our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, is a masterclass in this aspect. There has been little ambiguity, a lot of clarity, and the consistent 1pm national addresses have been a steadying force in rough seas. 

For most businesses the information isn’t going to be pretty, but don’t be tempted to put ‘lipstick on the pig’. Give the good, the bad, and the ugly. Give it all. This is no time to play politics – everyone needs to know the

true picture so they know the importance of part they can play in rebuilding. People appreciate honesty, it builds trust, and trust is the centre-point to teamwork.


It is incredibly hard to stay motivated for a lot of people right now.  We have some unwelcome new friends to entertain…. Meet some common frenemies – Stress, Uncertainty, Anxiety, Boredom. They sit in the corner, ready for interaction in any moment of weakness, and they sap our motivation – and the team spirit will suffer. To combat these enemies, our team have used humour, honesty, a focus on what CAN be done, and some creative socialising to keep the spirits, and motivation up. We’ve had fun with a collective pub quiz, a couple of wine-o’clock celebrations and having a less-formal outlet for general chit chat, questions, and poking fun at this ridiculous situation by setting up a Facebook group.



It would be so easy/tempting to throw your hands up in the air and say “see you out the other side”, but that is both highly risky and counterproductive. There is always SOMETHING that can be done. As our director Linda quoted to us “when you can’t fish, you fix the nets”.

We may feel like we’re banging our heads against brick walls with our efforts, but they will pay off. Having a focus, at the very least provides purpose. And for our collective and individual mental health – having purpose underpins this.


Many of us don’t have home offices, and with the additional pressures of home-schooling kids, or having family and friends in need of support or even just coping with the people in our bubbles for such a long period - it has been a real challenge for some of us to perform in all areas at all times (unless you’re a seasoned ‘remote operator’). Offering tolerance and understanding with and for each other during these times is crucial, if team members are to feel their contributions are still valued.


Our government has been operating our country under a ‘high trust model’, and this is what our employers are offering us. In order for both to work, we need to respect that trust, and do everything we can to drive towards success. Many employers are making personal sacrifices to keep their businesses viable, and this should be honoured. We will never truly know the full picture of sacrifice, but as the saying goes “we are all in this together”, and the trust/respect relationship are critical threads in preventing the edges from fraying.


Celebrate the small wins. Celebrate occasions. Toast to your birthdays and have some fun.  Thanks to the technological advances we now live with, we are still able to enjoy these beneficial interactions that alleviate the heaviness of the situation. So find something to celebrate whether that be your first take-away coffee or a company win, find humour, allow the sun in.

So here’s to your team. Cheers.