For some, remote working may be nothing new, but for many it will be a first or at least a very different experience from any previously – with more distractions and demands as we simultaneously care for elderly, children or other dependants, look after neighbours and self-isolate among other challenges presented by Covid-19.
As managers and colleagues, the new challenge is how to keep motivated and support each other remotely.
Dealing with the Isolation…
Keep Meetings Visual – It’s hard enough to be social distancing without also removing face to face contact. It feels so much more personal to speak to a face and will help remind everyone they are still part of a team. There are plenty of accessible video-based options available now – from Zoom to Skype, Teams and Google Hangouts for example.
Call Intro Time – To combat loneliness and ensure colleagues still feel included and part of a team, give over the first few minutes of any meeting to a chat or catch up. Make sure you engage and hear from quieter members of the team who may be more reluctant to speak, especially if this is their first foray into remote meetings.
Take a Virtual Break – We’ve taken this idea from our Swedish friends. Fika - means a break for coffee and cake (so what’s not to like!), and this can be adopted virtually. Schedule in fifteen minutes a couple of times a week where colleagues can get together with their coffees, as you would’ve done previously in the office and just chat. The only rule being – no work talk!
Be Human – These are tricky times for everyone and being human is key. Emotions and tone can be hard to convey through emails, so don’t be afraid to use the odd silly emoji or comedy gif to make colleagues smile and feel valued.
Individual and Group Praise – Normally you can just nip across to someone to say well done. Now it’s especially important to thank people publicly and privately for their efforts. Many workers will be putting in significant extra efforts to help their company manage this pandemic, so it will really help them stay motivated if they feel appreciated.
Managing New Pressures…
Turn a Negative into a Positive – Let’s face it, with the world being turned on its head, there are bound to be days when it all feels a little overwhelming. Creating a silly competition will help people feel they are not alone and that everyone on the team is dealing with similar challenges. For example, our team was offered a small prize for the person who’d made the most phone calls in one day last week – 53 was the winner but there were several others in the high 40s. It may not solve anything, but it does help feelings of solidarity.
One-to-Ones – Still an important part of management, it’s critical to give team members time with you to discuss their new working situations and work-life balance, which may be extremely challenging through this. Is there anything else you can do to support them or help them delegate, or manage across other teams?
Cross Team Communication – with the ability to just pop by someone’s desk and ask a favour now gone, it’s easy for teams to become siloed and not realise what others are doing and what potential alignment and collaboration can be achieved. Ensuring cross-team communication is key, so you don’t end up with different teams working on the same things or reinventing the same wheels.
Compile a Work from Home-Office Playlist – Did you used to have music in your office? Now so many of us are working from home, even if this wasn’t something you did before, you could compile a playlist from your team’s suggestions – don’t forget to put in a few jokey ones, upbeat ones, concentration enabling ones.
Remote Tech Support – one of the biggest challenges and de-movitators for remote workers is if their tech isn’t working properly. Can your business provide a support system for when issues arise, if not internally then an external support to ease the transition would be highly valuable.