So you’re in your second week of working remotely and taken all the obvious first steps:

    • set up your communication tools
    • set the cadence of meetings
    • created a standard meeting agenda
    • distributed work assignments
    • hope productivity will ramp back up
But something critical is missing–the secondary network benefits of face-to-face interactions

Virtual meetings are like the tip of an iceberg.
Much more occurs below the waterline in those secondary conversations that happen naturally in the office.The key questions are:

    • how can you enable your team to recreate this network effect? 

    • what can we do to transparently build a shared rich picture of the situation your team faces?

    • how can you use this picture to improve your productivity? 

Where do you start?
At the beginning of your next virtual meeting take the time to ask a simple question:

What do we need to change to improve working remotely?

Have the team brainstorm a list desired changes.  Capture their suggestions in the form of things that can visibly Increase, Decrease, or Stabilize.  

I’ll use an example from a virtual team I coordinated among a large CIO association.
The purpose of this virtual team was to define what “Leadership” means in the context of changing an organization.
Fifteen CIO’s volunteered to participate.  Because of their executive level I started with one-on-one interviews and ask each CIO for tangible examples of changes they orchestrated over the last year. As you read the lists you can get a feel for the suggested changes they enabled. Of course in your situation these would be suggestions to improve working remotely.
(link to higher resolution picture: things captured)

Before the next meeting create a matrix of suggested changes and connect the dots between each desired change to find dependencies between them. (If you’d like a copy of this spreadsheet containing the formulas and plot, please drop me an email at

The suggested changes were listed in the first column and automatically replicated across the top row.  At each point of intersection you need to ask “Does the change on the left influence the change above.  If there is a connection then place a “1” in the cell.  If there is no connection then place a “0” in the cell.  For better resolution use the following link:  connecting the dots

These connections enable a map to be created that shows suggested changes by their leverage potential.

The X axis is amount of influence (increasing from left to right).  The Y axis was the amount of dependency (increasing from bottom to top).  Finally, the size of the bubble indicates how many times each item was mentioned.  This enabled the entire team to be on the same page and see what part they contributed.
For a better resolution please use this link:
How to treat each quadrant

Share this map in your next meeting.

Gain their buy-in by showing the list and leverage map. Ask if anything is missing and add it to the spreadsheet.  Then show the updated plot.

So how can you use this to improve productivity?

If you divide the leverage map into four quadrants it gives you an indication of what action to take:

Quadrant Level of Influence Action
Lower left Low Influence/Low Dependency Quick wins
Lower Right High Influence/Low Dependency Start here for high leverage changes
Upper Left Low Influence/High Dependency Outcomes you seek
Upper Right High Influence/High Dependency Strategic Levers

Use this map to assign high leverage tasks to team members so that progress can be made in increasing your virtual team productivity. As you accomplish each change then delete them from the spreadsheet so an updated leverage map can be produced.

Now your team has transparently created the synergy that’s usually missing in virtual meetings and you can also use this method for any other topic of interest to the team.

Again if you’d like a copy of this spreadsheet containing the formulas and plot, drop me an email at

If you find this useful, please share on linkedin!

Please stay safe.