Following recent government guidelines working from home is now a reality for most. Whilst working from home for some is a welcome change- for many, their day at work now involves balancing caring for children, spouses or other family members whilst still trying to complete their full workload. It cannot be denied that working from home requires a high level of discipline and there are lots of articles circling the internet providing tips for individuals but how can you as a team leader or manager support your team during this unfamiliar time?
Try wherever possible to maintain the norm- Adjusting to working within the house; for many from a sofa or dining room table with numerous distractions is at best unsettling. For that reason now more than ever it is important to try to maintain the day to day structure. If your day usually starts with a morning briefing consider setting up a group video call or writing a morning email to inform staff of any updates. Even if there aren’t any updates, use this time to listen to each other’s worries or share a funny story- the communication from co-workers will help focus your team and will subtly reinforce that the working day has started.
Make your expectations clear- your team are currently trying to adjust to an unfamiliar working day in one of the most unpredictable times of living history- now more than ever you need to make your expectations clear and consistent. Spend some time creating a list outlining daily or weekly tasks that individuals in your team need to complete. Whilst some employees may feel you are teaching them how to suck eggs it emphasises that their job role remains the same and having familiar responsibilities during such an unfamiliar time may help to alleviate some pressure. Let your team see that you know what they should be doing and that they have got this!
Be flexible and encourage good time management- be mindful that for some of your team working from home is unchartered territory. Whilst their day may be off to a more positive start due to not having to endure the busy morning commute, be mindful that for the remainder of the day there will be numerous distractions. Encourage your team to take into account their household demands when they are setting timescales, remind them it is always better to be realistic meaning progress moving forwards is clear. Consider giving your team the ability to work flexible hours, their day now more than ever involves balancing their home life and work-life – allow them to find this balance and complete work at a time which best suits. Yes they may need to take part in meetings at certain times of the day but surely there must be some work they can complete once their children are settled in bed or their partner is home!
Keep things simple and use available resources- For some companies working from home up until two weeks ago simply was not on their agenda but given the current climate this decision may have taken a quick U-turn. Make use of online video calling, emails, instant messaging and telephone calls, high levels of communication will help your to continue to direct your team even if you are unable to see them completing work as you would in the office. Be cautious of sociable hours and try to encourage your team to not send work-related communication after a certain time, it is important that people are able to switch off during their evening.
Remain positive and focus on staff wellbeing- Sadly due to the current climate, some members of your team or their families may fall ill make sure you are supportive. Find time to ask your team if they are okay and make sure they know that you actually care what their reply is! Be mindful that for some of your team lockdown means remaining in a house on their own- make sure you find time in the day to be sociable and to engage in conversation that isn’t related to work this way those working relationships can continue to develop. Encourage your team to take regular breaks from the computer and to stay active, ask about the online fitness class they enjoy completing or the dog walk and the weather. Remember if your team is positive it is productive!
It is a challenging time and for many, the uncertainty is causing a significant amount of pressure. Whilst it is unclear how long we will be working like this for, move away from focussing on the negatives. Think of all the positives, no commutes, shorter days, more time with loved ones and above all recognise how advanced technology is. This period may change the way your working day operates forever, you will undoubtedly learn many new things and after all of this passes it is likely we will never take the small things for granted ever again so above all smile and say thank you!