I recently read an interesting article titled Microsoft Analyzed Data On Its Newly Remote Workforce in Harvard Business Review. The article described what Microsoft learned over the last four months when they studied how flexible and adaptable their work might or might not be, how collaboration and networks morph in remote settings, what agility looks like in different spaces and how to nurture and improve teammate well-being during times of crisis. All questions we were asking too at Greenleaf Trust.

What they found fit into the following four main themes. When driven by teammates, entrenched norms can change quickly; Leaders get soaked, but they also carry the life preservers; It doesn’t take much for workplace culture to start to shift, and human connection matters a lot and people find a way to get it. For example, while weekly meeting time increased, individual meetings actually shrank in duration. Leaders’ work hours increased but their one-on-one meetings with teammates helped mitigate the increase in teammate work hours. Teammates also flexed their working hours based on personal responsibilities at home, and were resilient in finding new ways to connect through things such as virtual social meetings.

When we conducted our own examination of how our teammates are feeling during these unique times through surveys during May and June of this year, we identified themes similar to Microsoft – teammates were spending more time in meetings, work hours flexed and connection with other teammates was important. We were also reminded about the importance of simple communication.

Understandably, our teammates’ level of anxiety heightened starting in March. They also found their workload increased as they transitioned to working from home. Our level of support for them had to go beyond just making sure they had the right tools to effectively work remotely. Communication, and lots of it, was going to be the key.

For instance, virtual calls at Greenleaf Trust increased from an average of five per day prior to the pandemic to more than 500 per day — with a majority being teammate-to-teammate. We developed a plan that was devoted to our teammates well-being, shared the plan with them and implemented it immediately in March. Leadership, and most importantly our founder and Chairman, provided everyone with reassurance and reinforcement of our core values. Our leaders, like those at Microsoft, stepped up their connectivity efforts with more one-on-one meetings about work related matters — but more often than not had meetings to just touch base on a personal level.

The results of our communication efforts have been impactful based on the feedback. In their own words, our teammates feel supported, informed, connected and engaged. This is extremely important to me because I know if our teammates feel taken care of, our clients will be taken care of.

What work looks like in the months ahead is fluid and uncertain. “Business as unusual” has been our reference point. That said, our commitment remains steadfast to our clients, colleagues and community during these interesting times and beyond.