With just about everyone working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, building trust with your employees is more important than ever. In many cases, employees are working under stressful and unfamiliar conditions as they strive to do their jobs well during the quarantine.
To help your teamwork effectively, maintain productivity, and stay motivated, here are seven tips that can help you manage your team remotely and continue to make sure everyone feels valued.
TIP 1: Make sure your team knows that their safety is your top priority.
Life-sustaining businesses need their employees to stay safe in the field. To that end, encourage your team to follow the CDC’s guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic. Provide them with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves and any cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, or other items they need to stay safe at work.
Check in with your team periodically and ask them what they need to feel safe. Pandemic anxiety is at an all-time high right now. Employees shouldn’t have to worry about their safety while they do their job.
Also, encourage your employees to make good decisions, such as self-isolating and social distancing. Remind them to take lunch breaks alone (skip the mini market and pack a lunch) and avoid carpooling. Consider chipping in for gas and food to make it happen.
TIP 2: Build social time into team workflow with digital water coolers and virtual coffee breaks.
People feel more alone than ever. One way to help them feel connected is by using virtual tools to help them maintain communication and not lose those friendly (and occasionally productive) water cooler conversations.
In a world where news is frequently stressful, a dance party is a good thing! Organize an online happy hour and be sensitive to those who don’t imbibe.
TIP 3: Don’t hold employees to a strict schedule.
It is highly unlikely people will be able to work at home the way they work at the office. You need to trust your employees; now is not the time to be overbearing!
Managers may worry about a decline in production, and while that’s a legitimate concern, employees are showing a keen ability to adapt to the new normal—if only for self-preservation. After all, no one wants to lose their job right now! Trust that they’re doing all they can to show their value under difficult circumstances.
Be sure to reinforce to your team that this is only temporary. No one is going to be working their regular schedule right now, so let them know you trust them to get their work done.
Encourage employees to stick with a routine so they can be mentally prepared to work. Routines are important to maintain motivation and not get distracted.
When you aren’t in the same office as the rest of your team, it’s impossible to send unspoken social signals like shutting your door to show you’re currently unavailable. To combat this issue, suggest that team members:
- Block off time on their calendars for specific tasks.
- Set boundaries by being unavailable to answer emails and phone calls for a specific period of time.
- Set status updates to “away” on social communication platforms like Slack or Skype.
- Stick to a routine so team members come to recognize each other’s windows of availability.
Tip 4: Create a virtual situation room to meet with key leadership daily.
Regular communication is extremely important while employees are working remotely or semi-remotely. Create a virtual situation room to meet with your entire team.
For larger businesses, meet with key leadership, then ask managers to meet with their teams to convey information. Take things to the next level with leadership coaching or human resources guidance to get your leadership all facing the same direction!
TIP 5: Provide user-friendly technology for your team to communicate easily and effectively.
Now’s not the time to complicate and confuse employees with difficult or excessive technology! Keep things as simple as possible.
For those working in the field—such as home health aides, plumbers, or electricians—who need to go into other peoples’ homes, it’s helpful to use an appointment program such as appointlet or commusoft. These kinds of platforms safeguard your team and your customers by minimizing their exposure to customers and keeping them on schedule.
Finally, you’ll want to find a quick and easy communication method so managers and their teams can correspond in real time as quickly as possible. Slack and Skype are great services, but texting can work just as easily without having to create or login to an additional account.
TIP 6: Make sure employees have all the resources and tools they need to get their work done.
Lines can be blurred when everyone’s working remotely, so it’s best to err on the side of overcommunication. Check in with employees to determine their unique needs, and make sure everyone understands each other’s roles by clearly articulating everyone’s responsibilities.
Consider these suggestions:
- Supply technology like laptops or desktops and ship them directly to employees.
- Give credit towards cell phone bills for data usage.
- Provide extras like Google Voice for team members with reception issues.
If an accommodation doesn’t come at a great expense, consider it! When you give an employee extra help, it reinforces your commitment to them. A small gesture can vastly improve their lifestyle at home, which translates to loyalty, better production, and a higher quality of work.
TIP 7: Emphasize management’s flexibility as people juggle remote working with family duties and other personal responsibilities.
Be aware of your team’s personal situations, such as single parents helping kids with online schooling, those caring for elderly parents, or team members who have family with disabilities. And be sure to have compassion for anyone on your team who is dealing with a family member who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Make yourself available after normal work hours or weekends for questions or troubleshooting and encourage preparation and proactiveness! To avoid missed deadlines, ask team members to give their managers an extra day’s heads up if they hit a wall. Whether they need to problem solve or are waiting on a colleague’s assistance to hit a deadline, someone else may be able to help them.
And finally, let your team know you understand they have responsibilities at home that need addressed during the workday. For example, if they need to take the dog for a walk, spend some time with their kids, or handle household duties, tell them it’s OK to schedule it into their day.
While it doesn’t feel like it at the moment, this pandemic is a small blip in time. With trust and compassion, we will get through it. So, above all, be sure to convey this very simple message to your team: We’re all in this together. Let’s do the best we can!Recruiting Top Talent