Prior to this unprecedented COVID-19 (coronavirus) global event, having an excellent staff was important. Now more than ever, it is critical to have strong, if not great, relationships with your co-founders, staff and investors in order to thrive in this distributed work environment. 

From an investor’s standpoint the team has become paramount. No longer is an exciting concept sufficient. A focus on sustainable business models with a committed, coachable team has taken root.  There is a belief that if the technology doesn’t immediately perform as intended it is not as problematic as an un-coachable team. Probing the team’s mindset, specifically looking for signs of coachability, inquisitiveness and willingness to learn is now a critical aspect of the diligence process. 

Investors want to offer more than just capital; ideally contributing tools necessary to take the company to the next level. In order for this to happen the team must be receptive. Every startup has to start somewhere, and it begins with developing a team of people that can help, that have ability to accept feedback, and are smart enough to know that no one knows everything

Our new reality will challenge many archaic thought processes such as: expertise trumps character; location improves productivity; and telework is inefficient. Given that almost half the world is legally mandated to stay home, that last one is already out the window. The question is, what replaces these measures?

Ideally, a shift in the measure of productivity should occur and I suspect the character of an individual will now play more of a factor than technical skill. We all know that co-worker who is a subject matter expert, but they are daunting to work with on a daily basis and can affect overall team performance. 

The ability to adapt to a distributed environment and work well with others will now become a primary focus in a majority of positions where expertise can be learned. Granted there will be a huge mental adjustment for individuals who are used to working in a designated physical building. This shift will need to occur for management and investors alike. The approach of driving down the road to meet with the CEO of a startup you just funded is gone. 

If a job can be accomplished from a remote location, i.e. home, there is an enormous opportunity to reduce building overhead which means a reduction in office utilities and supplies. Employees will no longer have the long commutes backing up highways, naturally, other forms of public transportation might suffer such as subways and buses but that could result in a reduction of the carbon footprint. It’s been suggested that we have bad eating habits, so instead of eating out every day for lunch, there is an opportunity to make home-cooked meals or potentially break for lunch with a loved one. Not to mention that the cost of employer-sponsored lunches can go away as well. 

The new reality for a majority of people is unemployment or remote work where permitted. While employers are considering layoffs, downsizing and restructuring going forward through this pandemic, it raises the question: How will our workforce move forward and who’s on your team?