The Coronavirus pandemic is rapidly changing all aspects of our life, especially the way we work. Organizations across the globe are trying their best to cope with these unprecedented times, whether it is by offering work from home or limited onsite work arrangements (primarily for essential service provides).
The social distancing challenge
Given the instructions on social distancing in order to slow the spread of coronavirus and flatten the curve; asking employees to work from home has become an imperative for most companies. Social distancing is becoming a challenge for many of us, with every day going by. Some of the challenges that many individuals may be facing could be
- Distractions at home/at a personal level
- Concern for family and friends
- Concerns about the limited access to basic amenities, work resources, etc.
- After all, human beings are social beings.
Leaders have to support their people as in adjusting to the changing times and in collaborating with their new work methods.
How to Stay Connected with your team during the lockdown?
Most employees can be just as efficient and productive (or evermore) at home as in their offices – provided their leaders communicate well. It’s important to have a proper communication system in place. Additionally, it’s important to sensitize all employees about it, so that they can collaborate, despite being in different locations, etc. Ensure that your team is familiar with the communication tools you are going to use. Programs like Microsoft Teams, Google Hangout, Slack, Trello, etc. are designed to be a virtual office, allowing remote workers to share important information and communicate via live chat and video calling features, etc.
Quick Tips –
- Continue to have regular and meaningful one-on-one conversations with your team.
- Pick a virtual office software that all your employee is comfortable using.
- Be effective with your remote meetings, however, don’t overload your employees with these meets.
- Use video whenever possible. It ensures an added connection.
Keep your Employees Motivated & Engaged
Employee Motivation, Employee Engagement, Employee Morale, and Employee Retention should be areas of prime focus for any organization during these times. Keep a tab on the overall employee vibe and employee satisfaction of your teams to know what can you do to better improve their work experience. How can you do that?
- Give specific, timely recognition more often, and encourage your managers to do the same. Ensure that you make your employees feel seen and appreciated for their hard work, especially during these extra-ordinary times.
- Have certain fun initiatives like virtual luncheons or a virtual coffee session, to have a better connection. Virtual events like these help reduce the feeling of isolation, fostering a sense of belongingness.
- Instill confidence in your employees, sensitize them on purpose and passion, goal setting, personal development.
- Give your employees clear and realistic targets, focus more on outcomes, and less on activities.
Focus on Employee Wellness
The current work environment is affecting different people differently – mentally, emotionally, and operationally. It’s crucial that organizations focus on the personal health and mental wellbeing of their employees, and talking about it is a good starting point. Organizations should talk to their employees on maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Leaders should offer support to them to become personally accountable for their own wellness.
- Help your employees build a productive and healthy routine while they work remotely.
- Encourage them to take short breaks throughout their day – look away from the screen for some time, move around, and get some fresh air, etc. Looking away from the screen is especially helpful for employees prone to Digital Eye Syndrome like IT, R&D, who end up spending a lot of time in front of their systems.
- Encourage your employees to make the adjustments they need to find a healthy work-life balance, and try and have an open dialogue on wellness and mental health.
- If budget allows, offer help in the form of emotion control skills, e-learning programs, peer mentoring, and the like.
The most powerful thing leaders can do for their people in times like these is to make themselves available. Make yourself available across multiple virtual communication portals and be transparent and honest about the state of the business. You can also use your social media handles to write posts, host live Q&A sessions, share videos, encourage people to respond.
Show You Care
As organizations across the globe shift to remote working arrangements, there is a sense worry, stress, ambiguity, and lack of confidence that has started to creep in among employees. All of this can have an impact on employee performance and productivity. It’s now more than ever, that your workforce needs to feel connected to their team, to their responsibilities, to their goals, and to their management. It’s now that you have to make them realize that “we’re in this together”.
Tell your employees that you have their back. Ask them how they’re adjusting to working remotely, and what challenges are they facing. In the digital world that we live in today, people are just a ring away. Set up web calls, quick informal check-ins, etc. to know if there are any emotional/psychological needs that have to be addressed, do not make it work-related all the time.
The working environment has changed for both you and your team and supporting your people has become important more than ever. Your employees need your support to adapt to the changing times, to keep themselves motivated and engaged, and to center their energies in a positive direction. Be there for your employees, help them sail through these tough times and you’ll emerge as a stronger, more resilient team. It’s just a matter of time, things will be normal again.