Social media can be tricky, especially if you’re a Last month, at the start of the work-from-home situation, things were tough!

Our team capitalized on our digital knowledge and were able to quickly:

  • Communicate office hour changes
  • Set new meetings
  • Check-in

Although one thing was still apparent, we were not expecting this. And amidst all that uncertainty, we were not prepared for this.

Team morale was low. We felt threatened. We were anxious.

It was apparent that the team was in response mode, as explained in a recent article from Deloitte on The heart of resilient leadership: Responding to COVID-19, a typical crisis plays out over three-time frames:

  • Respond
  • Recover
  • Thrive

During the response, the company is still dealing with the present situation and looking for ways to manage continuity. For us, things were moving but the destination became a distant fuzzy picture.

My colleague and CEO of Park Innovation Haitham Saab and I decided we need to take a step back before we could find that spring in our step again. We needed to act fast for our team, our community, and ourselves.

Recovery happens when a company learns and emerges stronger and prepares to thrive. This would be the new normal.

With those time frames in mind, we cleared the way to head towards our new online destination with these eight tips.

Doing a team mental health check-in

Social media eases the edge off of panic mode but when coronavirus rates were rising faster than I can say coronavirus-rates-were-rising, the panic mode was real! Empathy is needed right now more than ever because everyone deals with emotions differently. Since meetings don’t have that irreplaceable-in-person smile or nod of comfort, it was critical to simply ask everyone hey, how are you coping? Let your team know that you value their mental health by discussing challenges and suggesting solutions. From how to improve Wi-Fi or how to avoid frequent trips to the fridge, it’s important to let the team know you care.

Reassure the team about their pay

There may be cuts or layoffs happening but the state of uncertainty is worse than the bad news itself. As if the current lack of enthusiasm about work isn’t enough, be sure to reassure your team about any changes to their pay. Wage uncertainty will cost a lack of productivity. Avoid it at all costs.

Set a new purpose

Everyone knew our purpose on the ground; to become a 21st-century workplace with leading coding and startup programs in the Chouf. Our purpose has not changed, but it has shifted to become a 21st-century workplace with leading online coding and startup programs. That one-word change set us along a path of deep research into better understanding our audience (and their online habits), new tools, and emerging trends.

Clarify new KPIs or targets

Adapting a new purpose meant there would be new program delivery and therefore, new targets. Targets guide us even when we’re not entirely paying attention. They form our direction and our habits. We realized that although many of our targets remain, some would be put on hold while others would be increased/decreased as would be deemed reasonable with the program changes.

Master new tools

I hesitated to include this because it’s a given but I want to add that it is important that teams train with the new tools. Before each meeting, set a few minutes for the team to discover and master the new tool and share their findings (ie. I discovered backgrounds on Zoom and I love it!).

Set up a calendar

We all feel the lag moving from morning coffee to laptop. Calendars help us stay engaged and on track. Help create a sort of work routine where colleagues follow a collective activity calendar.

Revisit roles

Reviewing what I’ve written above, it’s evident that new roles have emerged. Responsibilities of a virtual nature will need to be duly assigned. It might be a good time to revisit job descriptions and stretch tasks into the virtual dimension. Identifying new responsibilities will awaken more focus (and more reason to avoid distractions at a time when we’re overwhelmed). Pro COVID-19 tip: Assign someone like the team wellness check-in coordinator.

And finally, I leave you with my favorite tip.


Take the long view

I know you don’t have all the answers but any sort of future thinking can help support adaptation. Answer your team with what the new normal is and they’ll be thriving in no time.


Things never go as planned. Plan anyway (then hustle).

Dana Abou Shakra