We are going through a hard time due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. With the number of Covid-19 cases increasing every hour, the World Health Organization (WHO) and government authorities have advised those with symptoms to self-quarantine and everyone else to practice social distancing.
All global companies starting from Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon to other small and mid-level companies from all over the world have rolled out mandatory work-from-home policies amid the spread of Covid-19.
Leaders and organizations are now facing new challenges and dealing with various unknowns as working from home (WFH) becomes the new reality for all professionals all over the world.
Surely, the deadly pandemic is changing the way organizations operate, the real question is how do companies, leaders, managers, and employees make this sudden shift without any prep or process in place.
Here are a few things that leaders need to know about managing employees working remotely:
Know that your employees are humans first
More than anything, it’s time to realize that we are in a scary situation without knowing when it’s going to end. There is confusion, fear, panic, helplessness, and uncertainty among people about the future.
In your role as a leader, the need to demonstrate empathy, concern, respect, understanding, and optimism is more than ever. At this point, their health and safety take precedence over anything else, even work.
Don’t forget that we are in it together. While checking in on your employees, the first question you should be asking them is, “How are you and your family doing?”
Know how they are coping with the new style of remote working and if they need any help in terms of tasks, workload, tools, process or not?
Keep them connected and aligned on the right tasks
One of the biggest challenges right now is to provide vision and direction to your team members on your company’s current priorities. However, the starting point is to ensure that employees have the required infrastructure, devices, tools, and technical support to securely access company systems and data.
When we asked our employees to start working from home to keep them safe from this spreading virus, the first thing Applify did was to provide the required IT support and infrastructure to facilitate smooth work from home with minimal disruption.
Managers and team leaders should set clear expectations, help them with prioritizing important tasks and come up with strategies helping them juggle current projects, existing tasks, meetings, deadlines without compromising their mental health.
Let employees create their own working schedule
Working from home presents a different set of challenges than working in an office. It is difficult to focus when your kids are playing right next to you or your family members are watching TV to catch up on the latest news on the coronavirus or friends and loved ones calling you up to know if you are doing well or not.
It is critical to maintain flexibility and let employees decide their work schedules so they can work seamlessly without interruptions. Get on a call with your team members to address their concerns and find a common ground suitable to all.
For employees, make it a point to establish a routine ㅡ and most importantly, stick to it. It helps to set aside specific hours to make calls, answer emails, update progress, and work on high-priority tasks, check your phone, have lunch, etc.
Designate a workspace in your home. Take a shower, dress comfortably (but no PJs), eat breakfast just like you do on your normal working days, and get working.
Daily check-in through collaboration tools
While working remotely, you need to be more intentional about communicating with team members as the option to watch them work under your supervision is now out of the window.
The need of the hour is to get help from various online communication and collaboration tools to bring your remote workers under one virtual roof.
At Applify, project managers, developers, designers often use video conferencing and project management tools like Zoom, Skype, Asana to interact with each other and share status updates regarding ongoing projects.
Schedule daily, stand-in virtual meetings with your team members to know who is doing what. Keep some lines of communication always open so that team members can contact in case of any doubts or confusion.
The best thing would be to ask their preference regarding how often to communicate and choosing the best tools to do so.
Trust them and encourage self-care
As a leader or manager, be a cheerleader for your team during this stressful time. Your employees stuck with your company during all its hardships. Now it’s your time to show some trust and stick to them.
Encourage them to eat healthy, exercise often, sleep on time, engage in activities to rejuvenate their mind without going outside, get frequent health checkups, and take good care of themselves. Get them enrolled in an online course or certification, and use this time wisely.
Arrange virtual team meet-ups to catch up with them and see how they are responding to this concept of remote working.
Remember that we are in this together. Stay indoors and stay safe. Tell us in the comments how you are staying productive during this Covid-19 quarantine period.