Long-Distance Leadership: Tools for Leading Through COVID-19

A condensed guide for leading business as not-per-usual.

Sehr Charania
3 min readMar 15, 2020
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

In a matter of days, hundreds of teams have had to reimagine and redefine how they will work together during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is hard to do under normal circumstances, but flipping the switch rapidly poses an entirely different level of challenge and anxiety.

In these last few weeks, my friends and colleagues in the People and Talent space have generously contributed their time and wisdom to help navigate this work + life shift (thank you!). We’re still responding to the situation in real-time, but there are already tons of great resources that teams can access today. Given the amount of information already circulating, I’ve limited each section to 1–3 most impactful resources I’ve come across in any particular topic.

Response Plans & Internal Communications

Tl;dr: Making “the call” on what action to take during COVID-19 is not black and white. Rely on good frameworks to help guide decision-making. Thoughtful and timely communication with your team and stakeholders is key to keep your teams safe and healthy. These resources provide frameworks that can help you think through your company’s response and communication templates that you can repurpose for your team.

Common policies + templates to use to communicate with your employees — LifeLabs Learning

Crowdsourced list of policies, updates, closures — Amplify Talent

Frequently referenced and adapted company response — Coinbase

Remote Guidelines

Tl;dr: Companies have had to go remote very quickly in the last few weeks. This is an entirely new way of working and the rules of engagement are different than when teams are colocated. Overcommunicating is essential and attention should be placed on providing support and guidance to managers so they can effectively lead through this change. Getting this right requires intentionality and these resources may be a helpful guide for all of us facing time pressure.

Complete Remote Work Playbook — LifeLab Learning

Manager Guidelines for Full Remote Working in Quarantine — Snyk

Staying Positive and Productive in a Distributed Model — InVision


Tl;dr: As travel restrictions and social distancing requirements emerge, standard recruiting process, tools, and experience have had to be reimagined from an in-person environment to a virtual one. This guide provides actionable takeaways on how to think about operational adjustments and interview experience for candidates, interviewers, and hiring managers.

COVID-19 Roundtable Working Doc — Growth By Design

Social Connection & Wellness

Tl;dr: Social distancing and working from home may result in employees feeling a loss of social connection and anxiety. Mark Frein (Chief People Office, Lamda School) sums it up well, “Physical distance is not emotional distance. Draw closer, together, as teams, and companies. Stand together and on common ground.” The guides in this section have tips on supporting your teams, keeping lines of communication up, and fostering togetherness, even from afar.

Employee Guide to Full Remote Working in Quarantine — Snyk

Anxiety Busting Hacks — LifeLab Learning

Remote Work Starter Guide for Employees — GitLab

Working at Home with Kids

Tl;dr: School and office closures may mean that your living space, workspace, and kids’ space are all the same. Employing empathy and structure in these situations can help navigate these overlapping spheres.

How to Make Your Home a Space That Works With Kids — GitLab

Giant List of Ideas for Being Home with Kids — Princess Awesome & Boy Wonder communities

Survival Guide for WFH Parents with kids at home too — compiled by Jessica Yuen

Free Tools

Cisco expanded access to free WebEx platform

Google free access to advanced Hangout Meet video conferencing until July 1, 2020

K health free virtual primary care for coronavirus questions

LogMeIn emergency remote work kits available for 3 months

Microsoft free 6-month license to access Teams



Sehr Charania

People + Culture musings. Past lives → Head of People @RigUp & @IPSY, recovering founder x 2, human biologist.