The Deltacron Dynamic: Five Frustrations Of Remote Teams

By Chris Westfall, Contributor
Another online meeting? Cover me, I'm going in. getty

According to Bloomberg reports, a scientist in Cyprus has identified a new COVID-19 variant, apparently a combination of the delta and omicron strains, aptly named “Deltacron.” Leonidis Kostrikis, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cyprus, identified 25 cases of the “co-infection” strain. “We will see in the future if this strain is more pathological, or more contagious, or if it will prevail” over delta and omicron, he shared. Meanwhile, millions worldwide are wondering if the vaccine will prevail. And perhaps why this scientist is characterizing this new scariant as a “winner” - when it seems like the personal and business risks are the real headline here?

A New Scariant: What Deltacron Means for Remote Teams

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to challenge the choices of both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated, the future of work will be doubly impacted. Not just as safety concerns mount, but as the challenge of remote work and remote teams continues. There is a maxim that says it is better to have never had something than to have something taken away. If you’re experiencing feelings of regression and reversal due to the risks associated with these various scariants, you are not alone. How can you stay safe and productive, in light of these ongoing changes in the pandemic?

Here are five frustrations that remote teams are feeling, right now - and these sentiments are only going to accelerate, as more news arrives regarding the Deltacron variant. But, perhaps more importantly, there are also five things that leaders can do, right now, to help lead through the change that is ahead:

  1. Playing the Game of “Not It” - A client was complaining about the frustrations around marketing and branding, offering a deep explanation of what wasn’t working. I was reminded of what my coach told me: “You’re playing a game of ‘not it’”. In other words, describing what it is that you don’t want, and what you won’t accept. It’s an easy game to play, as the pandemic gives us a buffet of things we don’t want and wouldn’t wish for. But is there something else on the menu? When you shift your perspective to creating a list of things you would say ‘yes’ to, you see new possibilities emerge. For leaders looking to lead teams out of negativity, what’s on your ‘yes’ list?
  2. Making the Impossible Possible - what if your ‘yes’ list is filled with a few impossible tasks? If you’re not looking at the impossible, maybe it’s time to dream a little bigger - and see what’s really available to you. Eliminating the things that require magic, sorcery or a time machine, consider what could be done - and what needs to be done - to get to yes. Turn “that’s not possible” into a project. What could make this easier? You may say, “well, that involves entertaining a hypothetical” - and you’re not wrong. But there are those who do see the word “impossible” as a hypothetical: it’s just a pause on the way to what’s possible. Typically, those are the leaders who don’t stop for labels. Do you remember when driving a car was “impossible”? Then it became a project. And then, it became a reality. Consider the words of Nelson Mandela: “It seems impossible. Until it’s done.” Turn wishes into projects and hopes into action.
  3. Stop Livin’ La Vida Lonely - kinda crazy to have to share this story after all these months of the pandemic, but here goes: Miranda is the outgoing one on her engineering team. “Because I often turn on my camera,” she says, smiling. Many still insist that on-camera work is not for them. And there’s good reason: Science Daily says that turning cameras off during virtual meetings can reduce fatigue. But can invisibility reduce your impact? Pulling back for reasons of self-care is a worthwhile pursuit - but not if it means sacrificing your value and contribution as an employee. Choose wisely, when it’s time to come online. If you’re a team leader, make sure you’re setting clear expectations to bring balance to an imbalanced world.
  4. Do the Do-Able: you don’t need a BHAG in order to make things better. You know what that is, right? A BHAG is a “big hairy audacious goal.” The idea behind the term is that you need a humongous goal - like reaching for the stars. Because, even if you don’t make it to the stars, you just might land on the moon, right? This just in: There’s no oxygen on the moon. If you’re leading a remote team, how are you helping them to do the do-able? In her book, Success from Anywhere, author Karen Mangia writes: “Observation is not an outcome.” Seems that big goals can be a big problem, if you don’t understand how success really works. This pandemic is no reason to back away from big goals. On the contrary, leadership requires that we get smart about how goals really work. Take action on what you observe (assuming people have their cameras on during your next meeting). You want to play big, and make a big impact? Do what needs to be done, and do the do-able. That’s how you create the impossible, and get smarter about success.
  5. Keep Your Eye on the Ball - my dad was a field-goal kicker in college. He’d come on the field, when the game was on the line, and he had one job: put the ball through the uprights. When it was time to step up and be the hero, how did he deal with the pressure, I wondered? He turned the question back to me: “Where do you think I put my attention? On the crowd? On what might happen if I missed? On what my coach told me last week? Or on how I made every field goal in practice on Thursday?”, he asked. “No,” he told me. “I kept my eye on the ball. Not the crowd. Not the score. Not the thoughts of what might happen if this, or if that. I did what needed to be done.” Indeed, one step at a time we find our way to victory. The challenge is that there is so much noise - so many distractions, like this new Deltacron variant. The solution for remote teams? Remember the words of the Israeli social scientist, Noah Harari: “In the old days, knowledge was power. Today, having power means knowing what to ignore.” Stay focused on what matters.

New scariants are coming, and maybe they’re already here. It’s no secret that challenges and change are always headed your way. That’s just business - business during the pandemic, and beyond. For remote teams, and especially remote team leaders, it’s more important than ever that we continue to focus on what matters. Take the steps to stay safe, first and foremost. But consider that the teams that weather this storm (and the next one) will be the ones that say yes to doing the do-able - led by leaders who keep their eye on the ball.


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