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How CEOs Can Lead Remotely with Digital Workplaces

Mike Gaburo

May 12, 2022 · 3 min read

Where and how people work has changed for good. As a result, CEOs must adapt to create meaningful connections with their employees, whether remote or in the office. While many CEOs can no longer stop by an employee’s desk or grab a coffee with team members, company leaders can still efficiently meet their employees and foster lasting relationships virtually.

Strategic, forward-thinking CEOs can create connections by leveraging digital workplaces in a variety of different ways. Here are some examples of how I use our own digital workspace that we call “Inside the Igloo” or ITI for short.

Manage executive leadership teams remotely

Due to COVID-19 I didn’t step foot in our company HQ and meet people in person until nearly a year after I joined the company. I still haven’t met every employee face to face yet. As the virus subsides, we’ve adopted a distributed working environment so employees can work remotely or be in the office at their choosing. I find our digital workplace to be a critical means of communication for the entire company and my direct reports.

My executive leadership team (ELT) is scattered across multiple states and countries. I use our digital workplace to run weekly ELT meetings through our Digital Workplace Channel called the ‘Leadership Zone’. The team coordinates, reviews agendas, and finds minutes from previous sessions in one location. It’s not all business either, I am running an executive book club through our digital workplace as well. Keeping meeting information in a centralized area helps us smoothly run calls and keep track of decisions- both made or still outstanding. We save time by not having to search for emails or chat messages about previous meeting outcomes.

I also use our digital workplace to run strategic cross-functional projects. The organization those digital workplaces provide becomes increasingly important as project teams grow larger. Traditionally, as more employees work on an initiative, information becomes further fragmented. Our digital workplace helps me manage projects better since an entire conversation thread and project artifacts are stored in one centrally located place and not scattered across the organization in emails, chat threads, remote file locations, computer hard drives, etc.

Reinforce the company culture

“The Great Resignation” is often attributed to uninspiring and unsupportive work environments. However, CEOs can use their digital workplaces to retain employees and build exciting, vibrant collaboration spaces.

For example, CEOs can use video to discuss critical projects and initiatives with their workforce through weekly or biweekly messages that cover new customer wins, research developments, events, COVID-19 procedures. In addition, regular video memos are especially useful since they promote interaction and response by creating more of a direct, person-to-person connection.

Weekly, I record and share ‘Mike’s Monday Message,’ a video around five minutes long that employees watch at their convenience, creating a positive, two-way interaction between me and members of our team. Video is a very personable communication method as it lets me speak to people remotely in a more natural way than an email or a chat post. I don’t overcomplicate the process. I use my iPhone, a ring light and a tripod. I have an outline of things to share, but I don’t use a script or a teleprompter. I just talk as if I were in front of a weekly stand-up. When I’m done, I upload the file to our digital workplace, and that’s it. The finished videos reside on the company news channel which keeps the whole company informed about topics such as customer feedback, new customers, new employees, company happenings and project updates. Everything you need is in one place.

Transform employee recognition

CEOs can ensure all employees feel appreciated by creating a dedicated space where people can recognize their colleagues’ outstanding work and actively comment on these accomplishments. These digital workplace areas provide greater interactivity than email threads, which is a great advantage. Employees can respond in a public way without hitting the dreaded “reply all” button.

Igloo has a space called the ‘Kudos Korner’ where I encourage the team to recognize their peers for achievements and hard work. This space makes it easy for me to stay up to date on employee recognitions that might get lost in email and delivers a level of visibility that would be difficult to replicate in a brick-and-mortar office setting. I love the engagement it creates.

Taking the reins of a company remotely was interesting to say the least. I experienced first-hand how the trends we all read about around employee engagement, hybrid work, maintaining culture, the Great Resignation, and the digital workplace renaissance all converge. Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn or at this email address: [email protected]

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