Every best practice Olson has seen comes back to communication, especially since the more informal desk-side and water-cooler chats are not a realistic option for remote teams.

“When you’re working remotely and in a distributed fashion, nobody should be making any assumptions, particularly if you’ve been thrown into this environment unexpectedly,” she said. “Over-communication is going to be really important.”

In order to ensure that increased communication doesn’t simply become noise without enough information, Olson says that morning team check-ins are a powerful way to get everyone on the same page. If needed, an end-of-day group conversation can help as well.

She also recommends using video conferencing wherever possible, in particular for difficult topics or emotionally challenging discussions.

“Video reminds everybody else that we’re all human, and I think that it does a good job of alleviating frustration. I think that it helps the team stay really close together,” Olson said.

Get the IT teams involved early and often

Another key challenge is technological. It’s not uncommon for teams to have their digital infrastructure be heavily reliant on their physical location, and that can cause serious disruption if IT policies, procedures, and resources aren’t managed aggressively.

“Ensuring that everybody has access to programs and tools and databases and documents that they’ll need to be successful remotely is going to be really critical,” Olson said.

The tech challenge quickly returns to a communication challenge, since different businesses face different types of internal policies and external regulations that govern how information and hardware can be used.

“You have to be closely partnered with your IT team. They will understand how to keep you compliant, while also making sure that people can still work.”

Olson related the example of one Fortune 10 client that required corporate-issued computers to be picked up in person from a company office. The policy was one of many that could restrict a team’s ability to work effectively outside the office.

“In order to get that policy changed, it has to be a team effort from the IT leadership as well as the business leaders that are facing the disruption,” she said.

Break projects into smaller, more flexible units

Business owners and managers also need to recognize that their workers aren’t the only ones whose lives are disrupted as a result of the coronavirus. Many have children and family members to worry about as well, and that could impact not just where work happens, but when it gets done.

“Things are going to be much more fluid, so things are going to need to be able to be seamlessly handed off from one person to the other,” Olson said.

Once again, communication is critical to success, as well as finding new approaches to measure progress. Where leaders might have assigned one large item to an individual, breaking that task into modular sub-units that can be handed off to other team members is a powerful strategy to keep projects moving when unexpected scheduling problems arise.

“The smartest way to do it is to actually have really low expectations for what any one individual can do within a day and recognize that that’s going to be a change from how you used to operate,” Olson said.

Within Olson’s business itself, We Are Rosie is currently adding five new full-timers to its core team of eight. In the past, it was Olson herself who handled the onboarding process for each new hire, but now she says she is focusing only on the parts that need her specific attention and handing off the rest to relevant members of her team.

For herself, and for other business leaders suddenly thrust into this approach to business, Olson counsels patience.

“There are going to be mistakes, there are going to be things that fail, there’s going to be frustration,” Olson said. “From a human-centered leadership standpoint, own that up front and create the time and space to evolve.”

Trust your team to get the job done

At the end of the day, successful teams will rely on a high level of trust from everyone involved, and Olson says that is a good thing.

“I think this remote work experiment, if you will, is going to prove that you can in fact still trust people, and that they are incredibly productive,” she said. “They are incredibly honest about what they can and cannot do. And they’re even more devoted to making the team successful.”

According to Salesforce Vice President Marie Rosencrans, trust is one of the most important things to establish between workers and employers. And Olson says trusted workers are happier, more efficient workers.

“It’s human psychology. When people feel like they’re in control over their lives, they feel better, they work better, they’re happier,” Olson said. “I think long term this will increase the trust within teams. It will allow teams to be more inclusive.”