The growing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to businesses across the world has pushed many companies to institute a remote work setup. With this unprecedented business climate, your organization is most likely scramming to execute a solid remote setup without the luxury of time to prepare. An abrupt transition like this during a global turmoil can totally throw your workforce for a loop. Ergo, supporting your remote employees is mission-critical.
If you recently shifted to a work-from-home setup or had to scale up your remote working practices because of the virus, keep reading. We’ve laid out 3 of our best recommendations for supporting remote employees during a pandemic.
1) Set Clear Expectations
Outlining explicit expectations is always a must. More so when there is a sudden shift of gear. Sure, your team’s essential functions may not have changed or your team usually works on “autopilot”. But this situation is a different ball game — working from home with an ongoing pandemic is not a similar experience with working in the office any other day.
Helping your workforce adapt from an operational standpoint will require addressing basic questions. “How and to whom do I reach out to when I need help? Will I be expected to work the same hours? Are there changes in priorities, productivity, metrics, and so on?” Defining direct and specific expectations should be the first step in supporting remote employees during a pandemic like this. It may require some effort but it will definitely help in the long run.
If you don’t already have some form of remote work policy in place, now is the time to draft one. There will be hiccups along the way so make sure to communicate your guidelines early and company-wide to minimize potential issues.
2) Keep the Team Connected
Working remotely doesn’t mean working in isolation. Employees must feel in sync with the entire team especially during a rough patch. To get there, communication must be done more than you think you should. Here’s the truth – there’s no such thing as over-communication in a remote work setup!
Start the day with a quick team huddle and make sure you regularly check-in with your staff individually. While you’re at it, encourage them to be proactive in giving progress updates or feedback on how things are working out for them. Just as important, make time for water-cooler conversations. Engage in small talk, share jokes, and just show them you care. It’s important that employees socialize because it keeps the mood light and ultimately improves productivity and morale.
All in all, try to leverage the communication tools you have based on which is more effective: phone call, email, chat, video call, etc. The important factor here is that communication is open, regular, and easy. Remember that in this kind of setup, working in a silo isn’t going to help anyone.
3) Offer Emotional Support & Recognize Hard Work
Understand that employees are worried about their health, personal finances, the welfare of their loved ones, and a ton of other things. Because they’re working from home, the boundaries of these personal concerns and their work-life can be porous. It’s not an excuse for not getting things done but it’s more reason to practice patience and empathy.
With workers getting laid off left and right, it’s easy for people to worry about their own job security. One effective way to combat this is by not letting hard work go unseen. This way, they also get reaffirmed of their value in the company. Regular recognition is a standard management best practice as is, but it means even more now as employees try to navigate through this tough time.
The Bigger Picture
In a climate where we continue to face overwhelming challenges and uncharted waters, the need for a strong strategy to support remote employees increases tenfold. But we have to keep in mind that the success of employees and the company comes down to mutual trust, communication, and an abundance of support.