How Members of a Dispersed Team Should Respond in a Crisis

You may have seen personally how disastrous mistakes made in the heat of the moment may be. The blame does not lie with you.

When danger is perceived, the brain instantly releases adrenaline into the bloodstream, resulting in an adrenaline rush. During this surge of adrenaline, the rational part of the brain is unable to function, leaving feelings to drive and inform decision making.

Cognitive neuroscientist Ian Moore posits that under these conditions, people enter a state of denial and resist having to make judgements.

Despite the obvious solutions being available, it is not uncommon for staff to make ill-informed decisions or to be unable to act in a crisis, regardless of their expertise and capabilities.

It is important to acknowledge that our behavior and reactions can be modified through mental conditioning. An example of this is the training that firefighters receive, which equips them with the knowledge and capabilities to respond effectively in the event of a fire.

Social proof is a concept which suggests that individuals adjust their behavior based on the actions of those around them. However, with a dispersed workforce that consists of remote workers, it is unclear as to who will be monitoring the overall operation.

That’s why it’s important to prepare your remote workers for emergencies via advance planning and established practices.

Here’s Works‘ advice on what to do in certain emergency situations, written specifically for remote employees.

IT-Related Cases

Lost laptop: It is undoubtedly one of the most disastrous scenarios that can be encountered by someone who works remotely. To safeguard against such a situation, it is recommended to take certain precautionary measures, such as installing monitoring software, regularly creating backups or setting up a system for automatic backups, and implementing two-factor authentication.

Who’s Involved: Members of the IT department, the TL/manager, the remote worker’s team, and potentially even the customer

Slow Motion: There has to be action right now.


  • Alert the manager/Technical Support/Information Technology Immediately.
  • Get in touch with a Disaster Recovery Service for Your Network
  • To prevent tracking, delete all data and encrypt the hard disc.
  • Prevent user from accessing mission-critical enterprise databases and other SaaS
  • Put a halt to all account number/login-dependent financial transactions, including credit cards.
  • Let them know whether they are customers or members of your team may be impacted.
  • Notifying the appropriate authorities of a stolen computer may stop it from being sold in the future.
  • Replace or borrow a laptop and link it up with the workplace server.
  • Verify the new laptop’s data using unit testing.

The hacking of company passwords: One may have access to a wealth of corporate data via their email and other accounts.

Who’s Involved: Worker on the other side of the world, colleagues in close proximity, the TL/IT Department, email recipients, and outside businesses

Slow Motion: While it may take some time to identify a compromised account, the reaction time is of the utmost importance.


  • Informing the account administrators will allow them to temporarily disable the user’s email or account.
  • Make sure the user account is protected by a firewall from the admin account.
  • Separate users into groups, keep an eye out for suspicious behavior like bulk emailing from an unapproved account, and take action to prevent it.
  • Avoid having any user program, particularly those that aren’t cloud-based, create duplicate data.
  • If the breach was caused by an external entity, such as a vendor, then you must adhere to their established procedure.
  • It is important to be aware of the constraints of your system. For instance, the presence of a keystroke logger on your computer would render password managers less effective. To counter this, it is recommended to use two-factor authentication and anti-keylogger software to protect your information.
  • It’s important to let your colleagues know if you have login issues that might cause them to run late.

When there is a problem with the server or the internet: To be able to do work from home, you need access to the internet. Therefore, losing internet access might cause extreme anxiety.

Who’s Involved: Internet Professional, Technical Writer, and Telecommuter

Slow Motion: Unless you’re up against a tight deadline, a server outage of a few hours probably won’t constitute a major setback.


  • Here are twelve potential reasons you’re not able to connect to the internet and what to do about it – It’s an excellent checklist for off-line use.
  • If none of these solutions work, you should speak with an IT professional.
  • Give your TL/teammates a way to get in touch with you that works throughout this time.
  • Waiting for a corporation to repair its website (like a SaaS) is sometimes unavoidable. However, you may contact them and let your team know.
  • It is strongly advised to exercise caution when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, as these networks can be vulnerable to security threats. To protect yourself, we recommend installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN), enabling your firewall, disabling file sharing, and downloading and running the latest anti-virus software. Doing so will minimize the risk of data loss or malicious activity.
  • If the issue continues, you may need to switch providers or invest in a gadget, such as a signal booster.
  • If you know you won’t be able to make the deadline, be sure to let your team know.

Incomplete file: File recovery is a painstaking process that may be a hassle when working offline or preserving data just on a laptop.

Who’s Involved: Commuter, computer specialist, associate, manager, or superior

Interval Timer Even if you have to do a system restore, the process shouldn’t take more than half an hour.


  • Prior to implementing any significant alterations, it is prudent to ensure that you can reset your machine to a previous point in time. Doing so will enable you to restore it to a safe condition.
  • Regularly save copies, ideally on the cloud.
  • It is possible to recover files that have been inadvertently deleted by checking the trash, cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud, or even by checking your email inbox if you have sent them there.
  • Use data recovery tools like Disk Drill in case you accidentally destroy a file.
  • If these troubleshooting steps fail to resolve the issue, contact IT for assistance and let your team know if the setback will cause any delays.

Situations in the Workplace

Inability to comprehend the assignment’s brief or instructions: Dealing with this issue in a globally dispersed workforce also necessitates coordinating schedules across many time zones.

Who’s Involved: employee at a distance, group of coworkers, direct superior or manager, and customer

Slow Motion: In order to fix the issue by the deadline, you’ll have to move quickly.


  • In this instance, there appear to be two possible explanations for the incorrect results. It is possible that you did not properly understand the instructions, or alternatively, that your interpretation of them was not correct.
  • Keep the team informed of your progress on a frequent basis to help them spot errors earlier.
  • Discuss the instructions with your coworkers and superiors to ensure clarity.
  • See how much time you have left before the deadline and if you need assistance, seek it out.
  • It is conceivable that the individual you are attempting to contact might be situated in an alternate time zone, which could clarify why you have not gotten a prompt reaction from them. Before you become excessively stressed and exacerbate the situation, kindly remember this.
  • Do not wait to let people know if the issue is irreparable or will delay final delivery.

Timely errors committed by a coworker If a colleague has not completed a task before the deadline, you may need to take the initiative in order to ensure that the task is completed in time. It is important to consider the feelings of the colleague, however, the urgency of the task should not be overlooked.

Who’s Involved: Employees working from home, members of remote teams, and supervisors/team leads

Slow Motion: The turnaround time must be short so that tasks may be reassigned or examined.


  • Reach out to the team member and enquire as to their progress in completing the assignment, as well as whether there is any possibility of remedying the issue despite it being past the due date.
  • Communicate with the TL and determine whether it is preferable to postpone the project or go on with that error.
  • If you are unable to resolve the issue yourself, it may be beneficial to think about who on your team may be best placed to take over. This could be somebody who has already had experience with that particular aspect of the project.
  • Assist them in solving the issue by briefing them and explaining their next steps together.

Possible Futures

Time Limit Not met: If the delay was due to an external factor that was beyond our control, such as a family emergency or extreme weather conditions caused by climate change, there may not be much that can be done. However, if the issue occurred within the workplace, it is essential that the source of the delay is identified in order to prevent further disruption in the future.

Who’s Involved: Independent contractor, coworkers, and TL

Slow Motion: As soon as it becomes clear that you won’t be able to meet the deadline, let your management know.


  • Keep everyone up-to-date and informed.
  • Investigate how the delay could impact other parts of the project and whether or not you can request a postponement.
  • If that’s the case, divide the task into smaller chunks that can be more easily assigned to other team members.
  • Alter the remaining project timeline such that key events still occur at the right times
  • Give the recipient of the delivery a heads up about when to anticipate it.

Situations Concerning Human Resources

Research has demonstrated that remote employees tend to take fewer personal days than their office-based colleagues as a result of unpredictable occurrences. Nevertheless, there are certain situations in which taking time off work may be unavoidable.

Who’s Involved: Teleworker, Group, TL/Manager, Human Resources

Slow Motion: You should inform the team leader or manager as soon as possible so that tasks may be rescheduled.


  • If you come across an urgent situation, please contact the TL immediately.
  • Make a rough estimate of the number of days off you’ll need to plan for.
  • Send an update to your manager and coworkers about your recent activities and upcoming due dates.
  • When tasks are redistributed, check in through video chat to address any questions or concerns your new coworkers have about your previous efforts.
  • It is important to establish prior to your holiday whether you will have access to email, telephone or any other means of communication and, if so, when and how you can be contacted. This way, you can be assured that you will be able to stay in touch as and when necessary.
  • Inform your TL if your situation changes, such as if you require more time off or if you’re able to report to work early.

Acts of Violence and Wrongdoing in the workplace: Cyberstalking, cyberbullying, and other forms of online harassment are additional risks which remote employees may face, to the point that it could prevent them from maintaining their usual working schedule. Conversely, remote employees could potentially encounter inappropriate behavior or non-traditional educational opportunities in the workplace.

Who’s Involved: Teleworker, Team Member, Manager, Human Resources

Slow Motion: To avoid setting a bad example, it’s important for both the remote worker and the boss to take swift action in the face of any misbehavior or abuse.


  • Assure your staff that it is okay to speak out about any instances of abuse they may have experienced or seen.
  • Try to choose a specialist who can handle these problems, if at all possible.
  • Most people would prefer not to have to report any instances of abuse or misbehavior, so it is important to give your staff members a choice as to how they would like to contact you (whether it be via email, video chat or telephone) and how much detail they are comfortable sharing with you.
  • Don’t pass judgement on what they say. Don’t wait for evidence to start talking to them.
  • Get the facts from a fair inquiry. When there is another party involved, it’s important to hear their perspective.
  • If you are uncertain as to the best course of action in any particular situation, it is advisable to seek guidance from your company’s Human Resources department. Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide a universal solution to the issue in question.
  • Counseling and other appropriate help should be made available to the remote worker.
  • Don’t compel the victim to reveal more of their narrative than they are comfortable with; instead, let them decide how much to reveal.

The importance of creating an emergency checklist for a decentralized team

On addition to instructing your staff in the aforementioned procedures, you should take the following additional measures:

  • Continually update and refresh training: Make changes to your emergency plans based on what you saw working and what didn’t.
  • To get employee contact information, you should: Document each employee’s home and work addresses, and keep a record of at least one emergency contact per person.
  • Dissemination of urgent information to the public: Set up a method for quickly notifying everyone in the office at once.
  • Keeping track of time and different time zones: If your team is spread out, it is important to reassure them that there is no need to panic due to the lack of a swift response from you. However, it is also important to provide them with the necessary skills and knowledge to enable them to resolve the issue independently.
  • Establish a clear line of authority: Knowing who to call is a crucial part of many different processes. There is no need to bring in additional personnel if a TL can explain a procedure.
  • Aware of the necessary emergency levels: The misplacement of a company laptop is an urgent matter that requires immediate attention, and is of much greater importance than the accidental deletion of a document. When faced with multiple issues, it is essential to ensure that appropriate action is taken in the correct order of priority.
  • Correctly mitigate the situation: It is of the utmost importance to prioritize matters that could be perceived negatively by the organization’s customers and other stakeholders. Rather than attempting to conceal any information that could be uncovered by the public, it is vital to use the correct public relations and social media channels to effectively communicate the narrative.
  • Create a society where people actively try to understand and sympathize with one another. It is inevitable that problems will arise, and these cannot be fully avoided. It is therefore essential to accept this fact and to ensure that your staff have access to the necessary resources to address any issues that may arise and to return to their normal duties as quickly as possible.

In order to successfully manage a crisis when working as a dispersed team, it is essential to ensure effective communication. To achieve this, it is vital to cultivate an atmosphere in which employees feel comfortable to express their emotions and receive support from their colleagues during times of difficulty.

At Works, we are committed to finding the perfect candidates for your company who have an interest in remote working and who can fit seamlessly into your corporate culture. If you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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