In the years ahead, when the pandemic is long behind us, people will remember how their companies made them feel during this difficult time. As you lead your mostly remote team in our new World of Work, it’s important to ensure that they stay positive and have confidence that your primary concern is their welfare — here’s how.
Track productivity. On average, remote workers are more productive and put in more hours than on-site employees. Using productivity and project management tools makes it easier for everyone to stay up to date on the status of ongoing tasks and help you spot problems. Don’t make your people feel that you’re using these apps to constantly check up on them, but rather to empower them to better manage their own time and coordinate with the rest of their team. If you think an employee is underperforming, reach out and ask them how they’re doing. They might be feeling anxious or be having trouble adjusting to working from home. It’s especially important to listen to what your employees need. With many schools closed and parents having to oversee remote learning while working full-time, working with them to set up flexible schedules can help them juggle these conflicting demands.
Make time for face time. If you can’t have in-person meetings, be sure you’re checking in regularly with remote workers over Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or another video conference platform. Oftentimes hopping on a five-minute call can save you hours of back and forth over email or Slack. “Make yourself available for questions, clarifications, or just a friendly exchange,” advises Nancy Halverson, SVP Global Operations at MRINetwork. “Don’t reach out to your employees only to assign a task or to check on the status of a project. Ask how they’re doing or how they’re spending time with their families. Let them know that you care about their wellbeing in and out of the office.”
Avoid isolation. To create an inclusive and engaging work environment, it’s important to carve out time for team building — even if it’s virtual. Encourage socialization during the day and continue to celebrate personal employee milestones such as birthdays, weddings, or becoming a parent. Recognize work accomplishments and anniversaries to foster team spirit.
Provide resources that foster positive thinking. Now is a good time to encourage learning and development programs to increase employee engagement and retention while also giving them an opportunity to enhance their skill sets and improve their performance. “Empower your employees with the support and tools they need to stay productive and healthy in the face of new challenges,” says Halverson. “Remote work can be hard for many people, so it’s important to give employees permission to work out or meditate during the work day. Implementing mindfulness into your workplace encourages people to reduce stress and anxiety – that’s good for them and for your business.”
It’s easy for people to fall into the trap of thinking that certain things can’t be done right now because the situation we’re in is so far from what we’re accustomed to. Resilient leaders challenge their teams to believe that they can find other solutions instead. Supportive leadership can help employees shift from a negative to positive mindset as they find new ways around any roadblocks.