With the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, many organisations were forced to think of new ways of working. This included setting up systems and structures to enable team members to work from their homes (or from anywhere for that matter).
These measures have had a great impact on the way teams and organisations operate, with more people working from home than ever before.
Shifting to a work-from-home culture during a time of crisis brings its own unique challenges. It does however also offer an opportunity to rethink how we manage and motivate our teams for the better.
As the public health crisis continues, we remain uncertain about what the future holds and what this “new normal” will eventually look like.
Working from home can actually lead to increased productivity and happier employees – if it is done right.
Here are five important tips to ensure that employees thrive whilst working remotely:
1.Set clear expectations
When setting expectations with your team, be explicit about things that are often implicit, like:
When will you be online? When do you expect your team to be online? Does your team have set working hours? What are the expectations around responding to emails/queries/etc. outside of working hours?
How will your team receive tasks and how do you determine the urgent tasks that take priority? How are those communicated?
What are the norms for team interactions (i.e. video calls, Zoom, Microsoft teams, etc.)? How will you communicate throughout the day and how often will that communication happen?
How will you provide feedback and at what frequency.
2. Stay on top of productivity
Not all personality types work equally well away from structured offices. Certain personality types, like introverts, are proven to adapt better to working from home, but extroverts, who enjoy bouncing ideas off others, struggle more.
That is why being flexible and adaptable can yield greater results when it comes to operational procedures and new routines. But to embrace flexibility and adaptability, managers will need to learn to step back and trust more.
On average, remote workers are more productive and put in more hours than on-site employees. Still, it’s a good idea to track their time with productivity or time sheets, as this ensures team members get recognition for the work they put in, and help you monitor if they are overworking themselves and at risk of burning out.
3. Trust that they’ll get the job done
With everything that’s going on, it can be hard to stay on top of each of your direct reports’ productivity. If you suspect an employee is underperforming, reach out and ask them how they’re doing.
They might be feeling anxious about the current state of things or perhaps they are having trouble adjusting to working from home. Be sure you set clear expectations and deadlines around the work you need from them, so they understand how to prioritise their days.
During this time, it’s especially important to listen to what your employees need. If schools are closed and suddenly your employee has to be a full-time parent in addition to having a full-time job, you might want to work with them to set up flexible scheduling so they can manage everything being thrown their way.
4. Get personal
Make sure that when you reach out to your team, it isn’t always just to ask them to do something or check-in on progress.
Periodically reach out to ask how they’re doing personally. Ask them what they have planned for the weekend, how their families are doing etc. It shows that you are thinking of them and care about their well-being aside from just their job duties.
5. Celebrate employee and organisational milestones
In order to maintain an atmosphere of normalcy, continue to celebrate employee and organisation milestones and successes. Even amid the craziness of Covid-19, the importance of fostering team spirit should not be underestimated.
Be sure to call out important personal milestones like:
- Work Anniversaries
- Becoming a parent
- Career goals
- Work accomplishments
You can send out a virtual card and have everyone on your team sign it, host a virtual happy hour or lunch, or set up a team game night to celebrate.
The current Covid-19 public health crisis has left many companies and employees scrambling to figure out the best way to work, but it is imperative that we approach it with a solutions-focused attitude.
As neuroscientist and author Abhijt Naskar says:
“The world is going through a period of crisis, but whether we look at it as a crisis or as an opportunity to reshape our thinking, depends on us.”