Working from home while we are practicing social distancing is now the new reality. Despite the many distractions and loss in productivity which we may be experiencing at work, today's leaders and top executives are finding fresh new ways to lead their teams to work from home for the first time.

In covering leadership stories during the pandemic, I've been fortunate to be in a position to capture some great examples. Here, four such leaders shared useful advice on how to navigate the current virtual landscape.

1. Create a spirit of community

Saar Yoskovitz, CEO of Augury, an AI-based machine health solutions company stresses the importance of keeping people connected--and not just about work. "We aren't a 'remote-first company' but we're adjusting well to it by keeping in mind that our company culture is our secret weapon," she says.

On Saint Patrick's Day, Yoskovitz held a digital happy hour over hangouts with his team. People logged in, cameras on of course, and had their favorite drinks together from the comfort of their own homes. "Many of our people are now working from home while taking care of their kids -- so we're making sure to give them more flexibility, understanding, and fun distractions," he explains, adding, "A large part of being on a team has little to do with deliverables, it's about feeling connected. So we're trying to create opportunities for remote work to feel more natural, more like Augury."

2. Take action on behalf of your most valuable asset

Avast, a global leader in digital security products spans multiple countries and continents with employees working from every corner of the globe. Like many other global firms, they've had to make adjustments and figure out what this current world order looks like transitioning to a remote workforce.

Jaya Baloo, CISO of Avast, gave me some perspective on actions taken on behalf of Avast employees: "From properly securing at-home work networks to providing individuals with the equipment they need to do their job successfully, to teaching proper video conferencing etiquette, there are very tangible, simple steps we've taken to ensure that our remote workforce is functioning properly, and collaboratively."

While far from an ideal scenario, she looks at the bright side of the ordeal: "This provides an opportunity for companies to prove their resiliency while potentially enjoying unique productivity benefits as well."

3. Make the digital transition a permanent strategy

Scott Galit, CEO, Payoneer, a global FinTech company that facilitates cross-border payments, challenges business leaders to not treat the measures they're putting in place now as purely stop-gap. For years, trends in eCommerce, remote work, and online service providers have accelerated. Galit says with so many consumers stuck at home making their everyday purchases online and many businesses operating virtually for at least the near future, these existing trends are likely to amplify.

"This is the time to consider more permanent changes towards a business model that takes digital commerce into consideration for both demand and supply in your business and allows you to hedge your risks in future times of uncertainty, notes Galit. 

While the virus is certainly the first and foremost obstacle on businesses' minds today, Galit says a more permanent strategy can encourage resilience in any number of different scenarios and will ensure that there is ongoing support and maximum flexibility for capturing opportunities regardless of circumstances.

4. Future-proof your remote business

Technology solutions that enable a remote and mobile workforce can make all the difference in keeping employees, customers, and others safe while still maintaining productivity and responsiveness.

Amelia Generalis, Chief People Officer at 8x8, Inc., a company providing voice, video, and chat tools to businesses, emphasizes a transition to digital without losing authentic human relationships and collaboration. She offers two tips for companies looking to maintain business continuity the best they can:

  • Future-proof your business: Ask yourself: Are your business and employees ready to work remotely? Do you have the infrastructure in place to be successful? Do you have a plan to virtually onboard employees, both new to the company and new to remote working? All of these questions need to be addressed and incorporated into your remote work plan.
  • Enable virtual work: Maintaining collaboration and face-to-face interactions are crucial, but remote work doesn't always make it easy to establish. That's why collaborating through voice, team messaging and video chats are vital for greater rapport. It also enables companies to continue their onboarding process with new employees like they would in the office through scheduled online interactions with other employees, team members, and HR. And it doesn't have to be limited just to work requests. To boost camaraderie in a remote world, teams can use video to have a virtual coffee or lunch break together or use the chat to encourage their co-workers to achieve personal milestones, such as fitness challenges or reading goals.