For people who don’t usually work from home, and even those that do, this is a unique and challenging time. Kids are at home doing online learning, and there is great concern about getting groceries and staying safe. Here are five ways that managers can help ease the transition to working from home while keeping employees engaged, productive and happy.
Communicate expectations as soon as possible and repeatedly if necessary.
For those that are new to working from home, there can be added stress when the expectations are not clear. For example, is it necessary to work during certain hours of the day, or is more important that the work is done by a certain day and the time doesn’t really matter? How should employees communicate with each other - email, instant messaging, video?
Manage meetings and face to face interaction.
Determine whether a meeting each day is the most effective or is once a week sufficient? Give employees the tools they need to interact with their manager and other team members easily. Setting up a Zoom meeting and being able to see everyone’s faces can improve the work from home experience and reduce feelings of isolation.
Continue to foster a team culture.
When all or most of the team is working remotely, it may be easy to cancel the fun and more social events like happy hours, team celebrations, etc. However, it is now more important than ever to keep building team culture even when employees are not physically together. If your team normally celebrates birthdays, do it virtually – sing happy birthday on a video call.
If an in person team building event was scheduled, brainstorm with the team how the event can be held virtually. Fostering and building a team culture remotely may seem challenging at first, but it will be worth the effort!
Managers need to support employees.
As employees may be working in a whole new way while also getting through a pandemic and possibly homeschooling their kids, they need their managers’ support and guidance more than ever.
Here are some ways managers can support employees.
- Offer encouragement and support. Really listen to their struggles and provide guidance and brainstorm solutions together.
- Provide various opportunities to communicate. Email alone is not sufficient as there are many other ways to provide a richer experience such as video conferencing using a tool like Zoom. Video helps reduce feelings of isolation and can be used when more complex or sensitive topics need to be discussed.
- Be flexible. As mentioned previously, employees are managing more than just working from home. Managers may need to offer more flexibility in work hours, project deadlines, interruptions, etc.
Encourage remote employees to disconnect from work.
When people work from home, it can often be challenging to shut off the computer and walk away for the day. Let your employees know it’s essential that they take care of themselves and their families. Maybe even offer virtual exercise programs, meditation sessions, craft projects, cooking lessons, etc. It is important especially during this time to help employees avoid burn-out.
Research shows us that employees look to their managers for what to do especially in times of crisis like we face now. If managers show stress, disappointment and a poor attitude, then employees will tend to act and feel that way too.
Effective leaders acknowledge the stress and anxiety that employees may be feeling, but they also show confidence in their teams and their ability to handle the situation. With a manager’s support, employees are more likely to be successful and engaged during these difficult times.
If you need help navigating these challenging times with your employees, give Incentra a call.