As with many businesses, your team may be working remotely during COVID-19. The factors that can make these work arrangements challenging may cause your team members’ engagement and job performance to decline. Lack of face-to-face supervision and access to information can result in frustration over the time and effort needed to answer questions, address concerns, and resolve issues. Social isolation and distractions at home, including a lack of childcare when schools and daycares are closed, can lead to feelings of disconnect and reduced productivity. As a manager, you need to do what you can to enhance team morale while everyone works from home.
Here are some tips to keep your team feeling connected while working remotely.
Provide Communication Options
Implement different communication platforms for contacting each other. Include a videoconferencing platform, such as Zoom, to provide visual cues through face-to-face conversations. This increases bonds between team members, reduce the sense of social isolation, and helps complex or sensitive discussions that require a personal touch. Provide individual messaging platforms, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, for when quick collaboration is more important than visual details. Encourage your team to use these channels for time-sensitive communication and casual conversations. Monitor communication among team members to ensure they share information as needed.
Schedule Daily Check-Ins
Set up regular check-ins with your employees. If they work more independently from each other, schedule one-on-one calls. If your team works more collaboratively, set up team calls. Begin each call by providing recognition for individual and team accomplishments. Then, let your team consult with you, ask questions, and voice concerns about work or personal issues. Acknowledge their stress, anxieties, and concerns. Empathize with their difficulties. Listen carefully to each response and briefly restate it to ensure you understand what the person is saying. Focus on relieving your teammate’s stress and concerns as much as possible. Affirm that although times are tough, your team will continue to move forward, and things will get better. Focus on finding ways to use individual strengths during this time to provide your team with a sense of purpose.
Promote Social Interaction
Structure ways for your team to have informal conversations about non-work topics. At the start of team calls, let everyone talk briefly about what they have been up to the last few days. Find an evening to set up a virtual pizza party as a videoconference by having pizza delivered to team members simultaneously. Or, set up a virtual office party by sending your team care packages to be opened and enjoyed simultaneously. Virtual events reduce feelings of isolation and promote a sense of belonging.
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