Many exec teams continue to work remote 2+ years into Covid. And as the early days of the pandemic slipped into weeks, then months, and now years, bad habits can/have likely formed with regard to how you engage with your team.
Add to this a market crash, tech layoffs, slower fundraising cycles, and countless twitter threads on how to keep the lights on, the stress is real. Emergency breaks like reducing burn to extend runway, being disciplined with hiring, and giving yourself more time to fundraise than before, are table stakes.
Perhaps not so obvious is making sure you and your cofounder are ok. On top of everything mentioned above, the last thing you need is tension with your copilot.
Today we want to resurface an article we shared back in November about how to stay connected with your cofounder when things are uniquely challenging.
Zoom more, slack less
You’re putting out fires, multi-tasking in meetings, and sitting in back to back video calls all day. So when it comes to ad hoc communication with your co-founder, you likely fire off quick updates or asks via email/slack/text. Right? Why add one more “meeting” to your day? It’s easy to take for granted the trust you have with your co-founder which is why you may find yourself cutting corners with communication – discussing critical things, otherwise worthy of an in person meeting pre Covid, on a super casual platform. While not feasible or probably a good use of time to always zoom, sanity check the last 30 days of your co-founder/exec team communication. What percent of your communication was via email/text/slack vs video? If you’re seeing each other less than 50% of the time you interact, you may want to shift mediums to protect your relationship. Yes! Actually protect it, with eye contact, and tone of voice. Lots can be lost in digital translation, and your co-founder is one person you can’t afford to be out of sync with.
Your 1:1 is sacred, protect that time
No time to talk? No pressing agenda items worth reviewing? Just saw them in another meeting 10 minutes ago? Doesn’t matter! Your regularly scheduled meeting with your co-founder is sacred. Do not reschedule or cancel if you can help it. This is the most important meeting on your calendar in any given week! Your co-founder 1:1 is your time to connect, regardless of content or competing priorities, with arguably the only other person in the company (or perhaps in your life?) who intimately understands the challenges you face running a startup. Honor the time, talk about the weather, your weekend plans, what you had for lunch. But don’t cancel.
Call while walking the dog
If you break up zoom fatigue with a walk to get coffee, or a quick stroll with the dog, you’re in good company. Most of us restore our sanity and improve the malaise of zoom life with some fresh air on a daily basis. But if you were once working side by side your co-founder in South Park, you likely swung by their desk before hitting Blue Bottle or the Creamery (RIP!). You would recharge together. For many, circumstances have changed. You may work in one state, your co-founder in another. The casualness of a coffee break, together, was an important one. For many, pre-covid life allowed for more unscripted, unscheduled downtime with your co-founder. But you can still have this apart. On your strolls for coffee, or walking the dog, call your cofounder, just to say hi. Inserting that casualness into your formal remote relationship will grease any potential tension you’ll have down the road.
Get bored together
If you’re seeing your co-founder or exec team quarterly IRL, you likely have a few days together in the same city that are full with meetings (some together, some not), and as a result, your catch up may be overly transactional. There’s simply not enough time to talk about everything, so you hammer through glaring topics without leaving time for silence. Yes! Silence. Awkward, long, silences, when it feels like there’s nothing left to talk about. That silence, together, once led you to a conversation, that led you to an idea/product/business that you’re building right now! Make room for that silence again. Manufacture silence by adding more time to your rare IRL meet ups. Get bored together. Do nothing together. Quite literally exercise, eat, scroll twitter….together. Give your mind time to wander with your co-founder, and see what great ideas you think of next.