The world has become almost entirely virtual. Your only live interaction ranges from the birds on your patio to, perhaps, your children running up and down the hallway. And you’re expected to be productive through the chaos.
Working remotely has become standard for most companies as Safer at Home mandates are imposed by local and state governments. This is a huge shift for many offices that rely on face-to-face connection, meetings, and in office daily practice.
How are companies finding success in the new ‘safer together – apart’ style of business? How can employees find success when their daily routines are so different?
Make Sure Your Company is Prepared
Now that most employees in non-essential businesses are at home, make sure your company has procedures in place to stay connected. Department leaders should give updates on how they plan to stay connected to their employees regularly. Communication is key during these crucial times.
If you don’t have department heads, take a moment to create a schedule for yourself. Allot times for employee check-in, news updates, and creativity/idea planning. Then share your goals with your employees as necessary. Communicating plans and goals creates a sense of calm, as employees are looking to leadership for support.
Tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom are great ways to host multi-person meetings. When you schedule meetings and planning sessions, these tools can be used to create face-to-face interaction, virtually. You will also have the ability to share screens and presentations with each other. Both have free and paid versions, depending on your company’s size and needs.
Make Sure Your Employees Feel Supported
It’s a lot for employees right now managing family and work matters all from the confines of their home. Whether your employee may be completely isolated alone, or have a house full of children who they’re trying to entertain as well, life is not ‘business as usual’.
Flexibility in scheduling may be essential for some employees. If you have someone at home with small kids for instance, their most productive hours may be before the children wake up, nap time, and after they go to bed. Allow for this flexible work, as long as their performance doesn’t diminish as well.
Right now, it’s the quality of the work not the quantity of hours that are important.
You may find that the employees develop their own systems with each other as well. Brainstorming, collaboration, and virtual ‘happy hours’ allow for connectivity and a creative space.
Encourage Rituals and Repetition
If you have a smaller company, take the time to contact employees. Ask them about their home workspace routine. If they’re at a loss for how to prepare, offer this advice:
- Walk through a typical day. What do you accomplish every day. Make coffee and check emails first thing? Touch base with three clients through a phone call or video chat? Find those areas that are habit and expand upon them.
- Request employee feedback or reports at set times. Depending on the size of the company or their position, this may be daily or weekly updates. This way you can be aware of any potential issues or opportunities that arise during this period of separation.
- Set up a separate work station. Each person may have a different area of the house that works best. Home office, kitchen table, sunroom. A space designated as a workspace creates a sense of expectation. Sitting on the couch watching TV with your laptop doesn’t cut it.
Create a sense of repetition for the staff. If you normally hold a weekly meeting at a certain time, continue to hold the meeting virtually. Just know, someone may invite their dog to the meeting, or accidentally turn their profile into an emoji.
Set expectations, but be realistic. Know what is possible in this new landscape. If your company supply chain is severely limited at this time, it is unrealistic to expect that employees will be able to perform at the same level. Shift expectations to what can be managed right now.
Serve as a resource for clients. Keep open lines of communication. Research your industry and look for innovators or ideas from other companies. There are a lot of ways that employees may be able to stay active, that are outside of their ‘normal duties as assigned’.
READ MORE: The Restorative Power of Ritual (Harvard Business Review)
By: Jessica Goldberg