During this pandemic, many stay-at-home orders and government guidelines are forcing companies and employees to make the switch to a long-term remote working environment. When things will be considered “back to normal” is unknown, so making efforts to survive, and thrive, in this new environment will help your team and company stay on top of their goals. Here are a few tips to maintain productivity:
- Show empathy – Everyone has been touched by this situation. Some are being forced to move major life events that they had been planning for months, if not years, such as weddings and trips. Others are attempting to work while simultaneously homeschooling their children. Families are facing sick members that they aren’t able to visit, or having loved ones pass while trying to mourn together separately. There are endless heartwrenching effects of our current climate. Being an empathetic and understanding leader during this time will show your staff that you care about more than just the work being done, but about their health and wellbeing.
- Encourage communication – When you aren’t passing one another in the hall a few times a day, it can be hard to know what your staff is doing and how they are feeling. Managing time at home can be a very difficult task, especially for those who never wanted this arrangement in the first place. Encourage your employees to overcommunicate during this time. Setting up a project management tool (such as Trello, Monday, or Asana) can help as well so everyone’s work progress is visible to the rest of the team.
- Instant messaging – Consider implementing an instant messaging system for your company if you haven’t already, such as Skype or Slack. This can serve as the equivalent of popping over a cubicle to ask a question – simply send an instant message. This type of communication fosters quick conversations, instead of traditional email that can get lost or bogged down in an inbox.
- Keep an updated, accessible calendar – When you aren’t working in the office, you can’t stop over to each other’s workspaces to see if a colleague can answer a few questions or to connect on an upcoming meeting. Because you can’t see what they are doing, it can be hard to plan a time to connect. Emailing or messaging to find a meeting time that works for all parties is cumbersome. It is much easier to have each employee maintain their own calendar and make it accessible to the team.
- Set up staff and team meetings – Being apart means missing out on nonverbal cues or updates that would normally happen when waiting around the coffee pot or as everyone gathers for lunch. Schedule dedicated times to meet with your staff members and team so everyone can remain visible and engaged with you and others. Meaning and intent behind a message can be lost when all communication is text-based; it’s extremely important to hop on calls whenever possible.
Having a remote workforce can be incredibly powerful and advantageous. Work together to ensure a positive experience for everyone.