How to Manage a Public Meeting Remotely

My Post (16).pngAs stewards of public funds, government leaders must operate transparently. Sharing information publicly and creating opportunities for citizen oversight and feedback have long been recognized as prerequisites of quality service. In times of crisis and uncertainty, open communication is even more vital as citizens look to public sector leaders to provide information and necessary support.

States Provide Flexibility and Clarify Rules for Public Meetings

Recognizing the conflict between social distancing guidelines from public health officials and traditional open meeting laws, Governors around the country have issued executive orders to provide additional flexibility and clarify remote meeting rules.

  • In California, Governor Gavin Newsom suspended specific provisions of the state’s open meetings laws and allowed local government agencies to hold meetings telephonically or electronically without public access to the meeting site.
  • In Wisconsin, the Department of Justice prepared an advisory explaining that teleconference and videoconference may be an appropriate way to comply with the law’s requirement to hold meetings that are reasonably accessible to the public.
  • In our home state of Indiana, Governor Eric Holcomb issued an Executive Order requiring public agencies and governing bodies to conduct essential meetings only. In addition, he allowed them to be conducted electronically by phone or video conference.

While states have relaxed legal requirements around quorum and physical location requirements, don’t forget that government bodies are still obligated to provide public notice of meetings and a way for the public to participate remotely. Here are several examples of various states’ emergency open meeting rules: ArizonaCaliforniaConnecticutNew YorkIndianaNebraskaNorth Dakota; TexasWashington, and Wisconsin.

Two Ways to Manage a Public Meeting Remotely

Technology like OnBoard makes it possible for a public board to conduct necessary government operations in a remote environment without sacrificing transparency and still keeping the public informed. In fact, 2500+ meetings were held using OnBoard in March alone. – Read more

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How a Coffee Shop Continues Serving Customers From Home

My PostAmy and Ben Wright recently temporarily shut down their five coffee shops in Wilmington, North Carolina, laying off over 120 employees, and moving their entire business online, all in one week. For the Wrights, it was a painful decision, especially because many of their employees who have intellectual developmental disabilities had difficulty understanding that the layoffs were not their fault. But despite all the changes, they are staying connected to customers and their mission, while keeping their eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel.

Four years ago, the Wrights founded Bitty & Beau’s Coffee with a unique staffing mission: “a human rights movement disguised as a coffee shop.” They are advocates of the value, inclusion, and acceptance of people with intellectual developmental disabilities, including their two children, whom the coffee shop is named for. In 2017, Amy was honored with CNN’s Hero of the Year award. The business expanded quickly, opening its fifth location in Annapolis, Maryland earlier this year. But that was before COVID-19.

“I think the whole world is going through this time of figuring it out,” Ben Wright told me on today’s ‘Leading Through Change’ live show. “It’s what we do on a daily basis. When we started the coffee shop, we just had to figure it out. With this COVID-19 pandemic, everyone is just having to figure it out.”

He went on to say that Salesforce tools have enabled them to respond and pivot from being a “within-six-feet-of-one-another retail business” to primarily online.

Here are three tips they offered to fellow business owners on how to chart uncertain territory and keep moving forward:

Tip 1: Be true to your purpose

In order to adapt to the changing demands, you need to support your team and meet them on a personal level. “I look through the eyes of being a mother when I have conversations with my employees,” said Amy Wright. “I think about them as family members and treat them as such. It really does make a big difference.” As such, the Wrights are continuing to make accommodations for employees with disabilities and without disabilities, knowing this approach will bring out the best in employees, as it always has.

Tip 2: Communicate often

You don’t need all the answers to communicate with your employees or customers. Start by communicating with honesty and the appreciation that we are all in this together.

“Everybody is in the same boat, just trying to figure this out,” said Ben Wright. “[You’re] not always going to have the right answer or even a good answer. Let people know what you’re trying to do.” – Read more

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4 Zen Principles to Boost Productivity While Working Remotely

My Post (2).pngToday is an era of nonstop potential distractions from people and inanimate objects alike, all vying for your attention. Combine this with the potential disruptions inherent in a remote work environment, and one might decide getting any peace is for the birds.

While it’s nice to think we can easily ignore these disruptions, the reality is, well, not so much. Research shows that multitasking has a variety of negative effects, from losing up to 40% of productive time, to a shortened attention span, and increased anxiety and depression. And yet almost everyone spends his or her day online, with multiple windows and apps open simultaneously, to theoretically get work done as efficiently and swiftly as possible.

So what’s an overwhelmed person to do—not just in your personal life, but also professionally, where your job performance depends on it?

Do more with less stress by finding the Zen in your work. Organize, streamline, and cut down on your communication clutter to not only increase your productivity, but also to attain peace of mind for the ultimate workday yin-yang.

Here’s how to integrate the wisdom of Zen masters into your everyday remote work environment:

1. Be present.

“When you are present, you can allow the mind to be as it is without getting entangled in it.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

The main reason that multitasking feels so overwhelming is because it’s inherently fragmented. Bouncing from email to text to phone calls to video chat entails opening up new apps or programs or picking up a phone—the work of switching between apps is constant. Worse, once you get to where you think you’ll find what you need, you realize that you don’t clearly recall which thread, exchange, or shared file has what you’re looking for in the first place.

A unified communications platform brings everything you need—team messaging, video meetings, voice—together under one virtual roof. All you have to do is open up one program, and from there, your core communication and productivity tools are at your fingertips, including individual or group messaging, file sharing, document storage, team calendar, audio or video meetings, task management, and more. Without having to think about where things are, you have a greater capacity to be in the moment and focus on the tasks at hand.

2. Streamline your workflow.

“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.” ~ Thích Nhat Hanh

In order to get work done, we all have to collaborate with coworkers, colleagues, and customers. Clarity paves the way to a much smoother workflow, so effective project management, where tasks and responsibility are assigned, milestones are defined, and deadlines are set, is crucial. And easily searchable conversation threads, a central location for all work files and folders, and a daily calendar allows you to work seamlessly in concert with your coworkers.

3. Communicate clearly and often.

“If you want to change the world, start with the next person who comes to you in need.” ~ B. D. Schiers

There are times when we all hit walls in our work; from creative blocks to a seemingly endless to-do list, we all have moments when we feel stuck and demoralized. For remote workers in particular, a sense of disconnection and feeling alone in facing challenges can easily happen.

This is where persistent conversation can be enormously helpful. A simple message to check in with team members can be very reassuring. When facing a bigger issue, a quick video meeting can help clarify any misunderstandings and reinforce bonds. – Read more

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