The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has disrupted normalcy — routines, structures and “business as usual.” Managers are feeling a particular need to keep their remote teams happy and healthy.
Without daily, in-person contact, this can seem especially challenging. How can managers lead, guide and support when interactions are limited to video calls, emails and virtual high-fives?
Rest assured — it’s totally possible. The format or delivery of team management may change, but the substance of leadership can certainly remain. The following practices will help managers maintain trusting, productive relationships with their remote workers during these challenging times.
Tips for managing a remote workforce during crisis
1. Schedule regular check-ins
Choose a time that you can offer one-on-one support to each of your direct reports. Perhaps it’s a daily call — or maybe a weekly video chat. Every employee is different, so find a cadence that works for both parties. This time is invaluable, as it allows managers to gauge workload and address concerns. It also allows managers to offer support and demonstrate authentic care. Ask employees about their work-life balance and how they’re coping with these unexpected changes.
2. Promote whole-person well-being
What happens in one part of your employees’ lives impacts all others. Encourage your workforce to maintain work-life balance (i.e. signing off in the evenings when possible, maintaining reasonable work hours, etc.). Working from home can blur personal and professional boundaries, and you can help your employees maintain the needed space to disconnect and recharge.
3. Communicate to your entire workforce frequently
With public and work policies changing frequently, employees want to feel in-the-know. Even if there’s nothing new to communicate, you can reiterate, clarify and answer new questions. Open communication creates a culture of transparency that your employees will appreciate. Consider using a free mobile communications app that is designed to connect you to your remote workforce quickly and easily.
4. Acknowledge that things are different
While resilience and hard work are essential during a crisis, it’s also important to acknowledge that things are different. Be open with your employees about your expectations, and be sure to offer flexibility to those whose family or personal situations require it. When employees feel understood instead of pressured, they’re more likely to succeed.
5. Share best practices for working at home
As a manager, you not only influence what your employees do for work, but how they do it. Take time to share helpful guidelines on working from home. There are dozens of wonderful articles and videos out there — start here for a quick, shareable video.
6. Model optimism
There’s a lot of uncertainty in today’s world. As a manager and leader, you can set the tone, attitude and mindset with which your team approaches new challenges and opportunities. In one-on-one check-ins or in group meetings, find opportunities to call-out what is going well. Do everything you can to leave your workforce feeling encouraged.
Managing a remote workforce presents new challenges for managers, but it can be done. As you follow these practices, you’ll be able to adapt to unforeseen challenges today and in the future.
Visit our Care in Crisis Resource Center to access our latest resources available to help your company and employees stay safe and connected.