The advent of COVID-19 has brought swift and immediate changes that are reverberating worldwide. Employees feel this stress and have had to make large scale changes to both their personal and professional routines in a short period of time. This kind of mass disruption is not easy but there are things that can be done to help your team stay connected and engaged while working from home — here’s our top five!
1. Communicate with more frequency
In times of uncertainty, it is essential that leaders communicate more regularly. Instead of that weekly team meeting, have shorter daily ones. If you already have daily meetings, keep doing them, but consider adding an emotional check-in as well. While it takes practice, talking about the emotional stress that everyone is feeling as individuals is helpful and healthy. Let people know what the expectations are with respect to deadlines and deliverables especially as related to internal and external communications. Increasing personal connections and reducing uncertainty can help everyone juggle work better. Just remember, as the leader, your whole team is looking to you to set the tone about how they should feel during this crisis.
2. Have video calls between team members
When everyone is together in the office, there’s a tangible energy that we thrive on. This social dynamic is not restricted to the shared in-person office space, it can be created virtually with video call software and apps. Make sure to keep the connection going between colleagues by asking everyone to turn their camera on. You’ll be amazed at the difference for your team when they see everyone’s faces. It’s a nice way to provide everybody a sense of shared routine. Here are some suggested free resources to get you started!
- FaceTime: For offices that exist completely within the Apple ecosphere, FaceTime is already natively built into your iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks and can support up 32 people on a call.
- Google Hangouts: If you have a Google account, then you already have access to this service. This app allows you to connect with team members from anywhere for face-to-face meetings.
- Skype: The Microsoft option has been a go-to for video calls in personal and professional settings with its 50 person call capacity, screen sharing, and real-time translation features.
- WhatsApp: Although limited to a max of four people on a single video call, WhatsApp remains a popular choice, especially internationally.
- Zoom: Another app that allows for meetings, co-hosting, and screen sharing capabilities popular in the enterprise sector is Zoom. Calls via this app can even host up to 100 people.
3. Make time for personal check-ins
As mentioned previously, each meeting should start with a quick personal round table on how people are doing. Even if things are still moving forward for your business, it’s not business as usual. The fact that everyone is staying inside their homes for most parts of the day, and that stores and schools are closed, impacts everyone differently. Recognize that each of your staff will have a different individual need for connection with you and that it’s your job as a leader to make time for them. Take the time to explore these personal impacts in a professional but humane manner by having the call leader or most senior person present their struggles and having others share after.
4. Invest in their home office
If your business situation currently allows you to make adjustments, now’s a good time to invest in your employees. If everyone is working from home now, consider offering an allowance for new equipment and furniture upgrades to optimize their home office. Whether it be an ergonomic chair, new desk, or a webcam, ensuring that your team has the tools they need to be most comfortable and productive in a remote location has never been more important. Consider offering to extend IT support to their home office.
5. Be patient and be flexible
It is important to keep in mind that your team will not be operating at 100% capacity during this time. Even if your business situation already had all its team members optimized to work from home, there’s now the stress of a pandemic on people’s minds. It is in everyone’s best interest to come to the understanding that certain deadlines may need to be pushed, and targets may need to be adjusted. Focus on the critical must-haves and don’t push as hard for the nice-to-haves for the moment.
Real Strategy Advisors can help
We all must take time and recognize that people are coping with new and unique circumstances, and do so in a variety of ways. If people are less available than they might otherwise be, that’s okay. Anything you can do to help reduce stress for you and your team, will be extremely valuable over the course of the next few months. Please call Real Strategy Advisors for advice on policies and best practices surrounding working from home — we’re here to help!