For many, working from home is their everyday norm. However, for millions up and down the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a ‘new normal’ to their working lives. Both employers and employees are having to adjust to working from home for the first time. Having spent most of their working lives in an office, it can be a major cultural and mental shift to suddenly be transported to a lone-working environment.
For employers, it’s important that you lead the way to ensure your employees are ‘happy and healthy’ working from home. As easy as it sounds, it’s not that simple. Employers now need to think differently and manage teams from afar, which can prove difficult as both employers and employees are out of their comfort zones.
Here is our top advice for effectively managing your team and help your employees adjust to working from home…
Provide some clarity.
‘Normal’ work routines will be out the window, so it’s important to provide a clear vision of what’s expected of your employees. This way they’ll feel more settled and comfortable fully knowing what’s expected of them and will stay on track to achieve their goals.
However, you’ll need to be more realistic about achieving goals. It’s not quite ‘business as usual’ as the pandemic continues to cause disruption across the economy. Take a minute to re-focus and find a clear short to medium term plan which is achievable during these challenging times.
Also bear in mind your employees’ personal circumstances. Do they live alone and are truly isolated? Do they have small children to home school? Do they usually struggle with times of change? Be clear that you are there to support and understand the differing situations we are all finding ourselves in and discuss this with them to elevate any unnecessary worry at this time.
Keep on communicating
Whether you’re working from home or in the office, communication is paramount for running a successful business. Now that usual communication channels are ‘skewed’, look at finding alternative ways to keep communication up, so employees feel that they’re kept in the loop. You might want to schedule a ‘daily huddle’ on a video conferencing platform to check in and update staff. Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams are all great examples of video conferencing and file sharing platforms.
We would recommend you consider a weekly email communication on how the business is operating, including any legislative or operational changes being implemented. Also highlight key successes or milestones that have been achieved to keep motivation up and a sense of community spirit, so they continue to feel part of the journey.
In an office, having personal connection is easy as you chat over coffee or lunch and catch up about your weekends on a Monday morning tea break. However, going from a work environment with ‘human contact’ to working remotely can be quite a shock to the system. Your employees may begin to feel isolated, so it’s important to maintain that personal connection.
Encourage team meet-ups that are aimed at NOT “talking shop”, but for some human contact. Organise virtual team lunches or coffee breaks to help keep the office culture alive. The Involve HR team are doing this on a regular basis and it makes such a difference being able to speak with one another ‘face to face’.
Maintain trust and respect
Initially it might be hard to ‘let go’ of being able to ‘control’ everything. But to successfully manage a remote team, you’ll need to trust your team in the same way you’d trust them to work in an office. By showing your trust, your team will be more receptive, and productivity working from a distance will improve.
You will also have to realise that people’s schedules will be up in the air now, and your team will be working more flexibly – especially if they have young kids who need home schooling. Respect these schedule changes and trust that they’ll do the same work, just at a different pace.
When working from home, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut as days merge into one, so it’s important to encourage your employees to stick to a working schedule but also take some down time too. This will help with their productivity and help to maintain their focus.
When they’re ‘switched off’ encourage your team to engage in activities outside of work, whether that’s exercising, reading a book, anything that will help them maintain a healthy mind and body and encourage them to discuss these new found interests during any virtual team lunches or coffee breaks. Both of which are critical when adapting to new working environments and pressured situations.
Remember, it’s not forever…
Keep reminding your team this is not forever and by staying united and in touch with one another, the business will be stronger and can return to a true “business as usual” in time.