From our team to yours: Tips, shortcuts, and best practices we’ve learned by working together across the U.S. to the U.A.E. this summer.
Scroll down to enjoy short videos with our tips!
Suzanne: Author & Manager
Many of us have drastically adapted the way we work in the past couple of years.
For me, collaborating with my Gen Z coauthor Sanam Yusuf on Book 3 of the MY JOB series and three young social-media interns to get the word out about that book, has proven that teamwork can triumph across any distance … And you can even have a lot of fun working together!
Here, I offer what I’ve learned, in this short video and the text below.
- People before projects: Does anything really matter more than our health? The double-pandemic of the COVID virus and gun and racial violence have whiplashed us across the face with the reality that human life and wellbeing matters. I.e., your teammate’s mental health, or their caretaking of a family member, supersedes any work deadline or financial gain. Be flexible, give coworkers the benefit of the doubt, and above all else, be human beings together.
- Tap hidden talents: Your coworkers–or even you–may possess more, or different, skills than you realize. You’ll never know unless you ask probing questions from varying angles, gently inquire (keep it professional!) about their passions outside of work, and conduct personality quizzes and creativity challenges at regular intervals. E.g., spend a few moments at your next team meeting sketching what success looks like or journaling about how your childhood dreams brought you to this job. Once you discover talent, jump immediately into utilizing it: ask the assistant to create a new program, the intern to film a video, or the president to compose a company poem.
- Teach yourself new skills as you go: The interns turn to TikTok, and I browse YouTube, whenever we’re stumped on how to do something new. As Gen Zers realize–and even seem to celebrate–what you knew last week may already be outdated. First, ask your team, because that could save you a lot of time trolling the Internet. Then, if need be, search keywords and give it a try. You never know what you can accomplish that you never knew you didn’t know.
- Take very few notes and turn them into action items: Start a draft email or document while you’re still on that video call. It will help you recall key points and get a headstart on your “homework” from the meeting. Particularly if you work more than one gig or find yourself endlessly on Zoom, setting your ideas and follow-up into concrete form will keep you organized and flowing forward.
- Divide, conquer, and support: Our team spent our first group meeting putting projects into virtual piles depending on who had what skillsets and interests. We felt clear that no one should spend hours ramping up where another already had experience–e.g., with video editing or posting schedules–and we wanted each member to enjoy their work. Once we split up the tasks, we checked in often, and I was impressed by how frequently the team asked each other, “What do you need to help get that done?” and then stepped in to offer edits, ideas, and moral support.
This summer, our team coalesced very quickly to work from four times zones–California, Missouri, New York/New Jersey, and the United Arab Emirates. We started off as strangers and wound up learning so much from each other, that we wanted to share it with you.
Enjoy this video (edited by Athumani!) or check out the text version below …
Cecilia: Graphic Design & Instagram
- Rely on your teammates: They’re there for a reason.
- Get a mouse for your laptop and/or handheld devices. It makes design and other work easier.
- Isolate your workspace and time from “fun” areas (e.g., your bed or dining table) to firmly delineate between work and recreation.
Shrestha: Volunteer Advisor & Group Support
- Utilize timesheets to organize your projects, track your hours, and ensure you don’t work overtime.
- If you need help, ask for it! More often than not, people will give it to you, or offer resources to support you.
- Be honest and genuine. Be your most authentic self.
Athumani: Marketing & Video Editing
- Try to work during the daytime hours–a big adjustment I had to make after I graduated college!
- Communicate! Ask your team and trust that their doors are open to you.
- Be open to edits and critiques, as that will only improve your product.
- Show up on time, and don’t procrastinate!
- Compartmentalize and balance your time: When it’s time for work, carve that out; time for family, cut that out; time for rest, cut that out.
NOTE: All three summer interns contributed valuable content. While two members worked for pay, Shrestha Sinha decided to volunteer for us. I will miss them as they proceed with their studies and careers, but I remain inspired by and grateful for our summer virtually together! — Suzanne