Coronavirus Support: How to Run a Virtual Workplace

By PlanetK2 Founder, Chris Shambrook, Psychology Consultant and Expert in Human Performance.

With all of the organisations we support, whatever their model of working, we constantly encourage them the stay focused on daily, weekly and monthly conversations driven by the following essential questions:


  1. What success are we trying to achieve? ‘How’ are we going to do this and ‘what’ will we need to achieve this?
  2. What are the conditions that we’re trying to achieve our targeted success in?
  3. What performance ingredients are we already blessed with that we can use to maximise our chances of delivering the success in these conditions?
  4. What performance ingredients do we need to enhance or add to give us the best possible chance of achieving the success we’re aiming for?


Asking these four questions will help run an effective workplace, whether it’s surrounded by bricks and mortar, or is in a virtual world.


It’s probably most important to focus on the first two questions when it comes to adjusting to a work-from-home requirement.


And here’s why…


First, question 1 of “What success are we trying to achieve?” means that you very quickly ensure that everyone is focused onto defining what good looks like when you’re going to have to change your game plan and work differently. Rather than keeping your targets the same, even though the context has changed, you make sure that there’s a picture of success that feels relevant and realistic for everyone. You’ll get a motivational win straight away here by showing your readiness to adapt and update targets and give everyone a challenge that feels worth pursuing.


Second, with question 2 of “What are the conditions that we’re trying to achieve our targeted success in?” it’s essential to focus on a couple of things when answering this. We challenge people to get a really clear picture of “what’s staying the same for us that is a source of confidence and consistency?”, and “what’s changing that we need to recognise and have a plan for?”. By answering these two questions, you’ll get a pretty clear picture of the ratio between ‘same’ and ‘different’, which is important to stay focused on. Our experience shows that if you don’t do this, people simply focus on everything that is changing and they get a skewed picture which typically isn’t helpful for seeking to learn from the conditions and use the change as a stimulus to learn and grow. We also challenge teams we work with to identify what’s either helpful or unhelpful about the stuff that’s the same, as well as changing. The language of this has to be spot on… HELPFUL and UNHELPFUL (never use good or bad). When you’ve had some conversations about these two concepts, you’ll again be in a position to take on the conditions with a clear mindset of ‘exploit the helpful’ and ‘mitigate against the unhelpful’. Being great at both these sides of the equation is important, and again helps everyone maximise Control, Confidence and Connectedness – the three vital C’s that underpin motivation.


The most important factor is creating a united, collaborative approach. Having regular conversations – whether virtual or not – will help teams feel motivated.


The three C’s that underpin motivation:


  1. Connectedness: Keep teams focused on the collective vision and goal by regular conversations. Check in for a community call at the beginning and end of the day, and stay connected through Slack, Microsoft Teams, VOIP. Being able to hear each other, see each other is important for helping create a sense of togetherness. It will enable a sense of personal autonomy and control, enhancing confidence and motivation.
  2. Confidence: Share advice, tips and tactics for remote working. Share ideas and advice on working from home so people feel as confident as possible. Make sure everyone is regularly checking in with existing strengths, achievements and successes from the day – this will boost morale and enforce confidence levels. Not to mention increasing motivation levels.
  3. Control: Answering all of the questions collaboratively ensures that the sense of togetherness is maximised, but it’s also equally important for each person to remember how important they are individually to the overall success of the business. This mutual accountability along with individual responsibility does a huge amount toward keeping a sense of connectedness throughout the business, and leaders can do a huge amount to enable their staff to take control of their environments, their workload, their goals so they feel a sense of responsibility and motivation.


If you keep Confidence, Connectedness and Control at the centre of your business and remind everyone of the overriding business mission, you’ll be in a very good place to adapt to any number of changes, maintaining motivation, productivity and maximum performance.