Much has been written about Zoom fatigue1 and the difficulties of working remotely as a team but not enough about the success that some organizations achieved by enhancing their team relationships. Our client, DXC’s General Counsel, Bill Deckelman and his team faced many Pandemic challenges. But as they moved through them, they discovered how putting people first and staying connected paved their way to new levels of connection!
We all remember too well how, in early 2020 the Pandemic hit and sent everyone home -- a big change for many unaccustomed to working remotely. DXC Technology’s Legal group took a unique approach to navigating the communication obstacles our joint teams faced.
All hands calls, using audio at first -- the Legal department had been regularly holding a monthly all hands or team call for both the DXC attorneys and our UnitedLex managed services organization that serves as an extension of the Legal staff. Bill and his leadership team recognized that with the pandemic more and better communication would be required to engage the department, ensure the wellbeing of every member, and weather the unknown challenges ahead.
Previously, these team calls were voice only and featured a litany of updates on the business as well as various aspects of the Legal department’s performance. The calls were typically rotated by time zone so that no one part of the global organization would continually review a recorded session.
All hands shifting to video -- The monthly all-hands calls were shifted to video meetings and their frequency increased to every two weeks to ensure that people felt connected. And, rather than rotating the meetings by time zone, Bill and his team decided to conduct each live meeting twice -- once in the early morning and once in the late evening (US time) -- to give team members in all parts of the world options to select a specific live event to attend.
This new schedule required considerable time and resource investment by senior professionals from both of our organizations. But it was clear that being physically present for people was a valuable way for everyone to feel important and connected, no matter the role or how disparate our locations.
People matter! The team decided to invite more of its members to present and to provide more varied content to encourage interaction and keep the calls relevant and engaging. Leadership realized that as important as the frequency and addition of video was, the approach and agendas also had to change for these meetings. And because everyone was facing similar challenges, the goal was to ensure people would see the value in attending and make certain they would also feel less remote and more represented with the global team.
Healthcare - Bill invited corporate healthcare specialists to address Covid-19 rumors and the competing facts that were circulating in the media. Guest speakers from the client’s various business groups were also invited to share their circumstances and educate the group on how to best meet their unique Legal needs during this challenging time.
Human interest - Many members of our managed services team, together with DXC’s Legal team, expanded their presentations to include both their work and the the local human-interest aspects of its delivery – by offering sessions such as “A Day in the Life of the Latin America team.”2
Other sessions had individuals at all levels of both organizations deliver updates about the extra efforts all parts of the business were making to resolve logistical and other serious pandemic challenges faced by DXC customers. These stories gave meeting participants reason for pride in their co-workers.
Legal domain - Various members of the Legal department were invited to present about their specific Legal or Contracts domain areas. It was a great way to get to know the broader department and develop an appreciation for what others contribute every day.
Health and wellness - Another new feature many people appreciated was to invite team members with specific wellness skills such as meditation and yoga to give the group important tips on stress management and relaxation. Medical professionals also joined to discuss stress impacts to health and coping exercises.
Sharing knowledge and traditions - Occasionally external business and motivation authors would join the all-hands meetings to discuss their works. The DXC and UnitedLex teams would be invited to read the author’s materials in advance to prepare for the discussion. During the holidays, the group enjoyed sharing international traditions. Team members from all parts of the globe brought to life Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, and Chinese New Year and highlighted details about their families’ and regional celebrations.
Ukraine and Russian impact
DXC has a significant group in Ukraine and in Russia. Recently this new format has proved to be the ideal framework for the global team to unite and communicate around the conflict in Ukraine. Colleagues around the world were concerned for the welfare of their co-workers and wanting to help. The new video calls have allowed the teams to regularly see one another, share their experiences, and receive support from their global team.
Collaborate and connect – so important!
The courage and dedication of the team members in conflict permeated the calls and has inspired the larger group in their efforts to support their friends and colleagues. This was a particularly effective way for everyone to learn about the many Legal impacts resonating across human resources (HR), security, compliance, and other departments and discover how all these groups were actively collaborating to respond to the crisis.
We’re connected – a smile stepping beyond the pandemic threat!
Many would agree that these meetings brought us closer together. Bill and the leadership team committed to always being live on the calls, opening and closing the events with authentic comments, taking questions, and responding with empathy and understanding.
Occasionally, Bill acknowledged that the remote circumstances had been difficult for him as well. He expressed how much he appreciated the connection with the team and their positive embrace of good work, collaboration, and communication as the way to weather the path forward. His personal connection and optimism set an open tone emulated by the leadership team and all participants and it continues to drive the success and popularity of these bi-weekly meetings.
We’ve learned so much! So, as we look hopefully toward a more peaceful world and the eventual return to more in-person experiences in the coming year, I believe that the positive potential we’ve learned about remote communication will stay with us and inform all our interactions going forward. The Pandemic forced us to put people first and excellent organizations like our client DXC Technology, led the way. Let’s make sure we always make people a priority from here on.
- Example: Stanford News article, Feb 23, 2021, Stanford researchers identify four causes for ‘Zoom fatigue’ and their simple fixes By Vignesh Ramachandran
- See also related theme and background for deeper understanding in Q & A article from The Harvard Gazatte, National & World Affairs, titled, From bad to worse in Latin America by Liz Mineo July 27, 2021
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Diane Homolak is Vice President of Legal Technology in the Contracting and Commercial Solutions group at UnitedLex. She is responsible for assessing, recommending, and leading implementations of Legal technology to optimize client contracting processes. Prior to joining UnitedLex Diane was the Manager for Global Legal Innovation and Strategic Solutions at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise having achieved that position over a 30-year career at HP/HPE. Diane was the first woman to chair the Board of Directors for the International Association of Contracts and Commercial Management (WCC today). She has her JD from Cleveland State and her MBA and Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Ohio University. Diane also holds a certificate in Blockchain Strategy from the University of Oxford Said Business School and she holds Project Management Professional credentials from the Project Management Institute.
UnitedLex, a technology and Legal services company delivering full-scale digital transformation was founded in 2006. As a Legal service provider offer a variety of solutions such as Litigation & Investigations, Contract and Corporate Solutions, Intellectual Property, Legal Operations, Law Department Consulting. Their stated passion is to change the future of law, creating something truly unique by seeking answers to challenging questions and pushing limits to solve their clients' needs. By employing their four-part outcome-based formula for success, contracting departments can maximize the value of agreements while reducing the cost of their creation and administration.