People are quickly realizing that working remotely is tough for everyone. Typically, full time staff may go home to be full time parents at the end of the workday, or they may go home to an empty flat every night. Now that non-essential businesses have closed their doors, as a manager, you still have to focus on the human and social capital that you’ve created before the pandemic. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re leading from behind the computer.
Offer Clarification for Team Members
We are currently living in unprecedented times, and without a precedent comes uncertainty. People’s lives have been greatly disrupted. In times of ambiguity, your team will look to you for guidance. Now is the time that you should step in and help them focus on what’s important from day-to-day.
From the start, you should clarify group goals and team member’s responsibilities and role on the team. Keep in mind, the switch to remote working is not business as usual, so it’s important to reiterate the standards to follow and keep team members up to date on changing goals and procedures.
Offering clarification to team members is very beneficial because it is essential in our day-to-day understanding while we are communicating with one another. Since the situation is difficult for everyone to navigate, clarification will affect the rates of employee satisfaction and turnover behavior for the benefit of the team and the company.
Touch Base with Team Members Regularly
People’s daily routines have been uprooted and turned into something vastly different than what they were two months ago. Parents are now having to care for their children 24/7 while working full time at the same time. On the opposite end of the spectrum, single team members are alone in their flats all day. The only interaction that they get may be with a pet or the occasional Facetime from Mom.
When team members are home, they can feel disconnected and alone. There are several ways to combat these feelings and still build human and social capital. You can schedule morning team meetings each day to check in on project progress and connect with the team.
Another way to check in can be more personal; just checking in with each individual once a week via telephone to see how he or she is doing can show that you, as a manager and a decent human being, care about them. You can also set up a team chat to check in and keep team members up to date.
Similar to clarification, making and maintaining connections with team members at work will boost job satisfaction. Team members will be happier and feel more included in the process while they are working remotely when the connections are well maintained. With the practice of social distancing and remote working in effect, the socialization between you, the manager, and your team members will also improve their well-being due to our natural tendencies to mingle with other people.
Empathize with Team Members
COVID-19 has changed almost every aspect of life, so not only are team members coping with the sudden and drastic work-related changes, they are also managing the changes in their personal lives. As they navigate their new lives’ hardships, remember that everyone handles change and challenges differently.
People may need more time to cope, and they can react differently to the pandemic. If you’re connecting with your team members, offer them empathy when they need it because we are all in the same situation currently and promoting mental well-being is critical. Also, understand that people may not be able to produce the same quality of work that they would have produced in a work environment. There are many distractions in the home and team members will have to adjust at their own pace.
Through your communications and empathy given to team members, you increase the trust of the team members in yourself and the company. Without a foundation of trust, team members will not buy into the company’s purpose and vision; this is especially true when employees cannot be closely monitored to make sure they are working to the company’s standards, leading to a decrease in productivity and employee buy-in.
With increased trust comes increased loyalty. Companies with an empathetic culture tend to have employees that feel more loyal to that company because they feel that they are being invested in by the company. This investment in the individual is called human capital, and it is extremely important to have in times of uncertainty, like today.