We have been writing about how to handle the transition to remote work amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. The goal was always to help businesses stay afloat and for the employees to stay positive and productive. The most important people in the organisation to meet both of these goals are the leaders and managers.

In our previous blog post, we wrote about the most common problems employees who are new to remote working will face. In this blog post, we have shared with you five simple and actionable insights to help leaders and managers transition their teams to working from home and remote work conditions.

1. Daily consistent check-ins

It has been proven that managers who establish regular calls with their remote team members are able to maintain a more cohesive team. This could be in the form of daily one-on-one tele or video calls if the remote working employees work more independently from each other.

There can be a team call if the team’s work is highly collaborative in nature. These calls can help reduce anxiety, feelings of not belonging, feelings of not being socially connected etc. It’s good to keep these calls periodic and predictable.

Another benefit is that remote working employees will know that they are in the loop, that their work is being that they can consult with you for their queries and concerns. This instils a positive attitude as well as employee productivity.

2. This is the right time to hone your communication skills

Communication has always been the key, but when it comes to managing a business with remote working teams, it is an even more important element to focus on. In the first point, we emphasised the importance of communicating daily for the employees who have just started to work remotely so they do not feel stranded and alone.

Managers should be sensitive and compassionate towards people who are new to remote working. While assigning tasks, everything from brief to deadlines should be stated clearly in the written word. A little gratitude and prompt responses from team leaders can increase the productivity of remote teams substantially.

Effective communication between team members should also be focused on. For this, you can provide your team with mobile-enabled individual messaging functionality like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc., whichever your team is used to and more comfortable with. This is not the right time to experiment with new communication tools.

3. Use video technology to increase the humanness factor

Here we shall discuss how you can do it effectively. Email as a mode of communication alone is insufficient.

Remote workers can surely benefit from having better technological ways of communicating, such as video conferencing, which gives participants a more personal experience.

Video conferencing has several other advantages, especially for smaller remote working teams. For instance, visual cues allow for increased mutual knowledge about colleagues and also help in reducing a sense of isolation among individuals.

Video is also particularly preferred for detailed or sensitive conversations, as it feels more effective and personal than the written or audio-only mode of communication. It is also important to note that while using such communication tools, ask your IT department to check for any potential threats to the security of employee privacy and data.

4. Social distancing doesn’t mean social deprivation

One of the most effective steps a manager can take is to provide opportunities for remote social interaction. Plan ways for remotely stationed employees to come together and interact socially virtually. In other words, have an informal get-together for non-work-related topics.

Team leaders can drop texts every once in a while, like We’re going to spend the first few minutes just catching up with each other.” Other interesting options can include virtual pizza parties or drink parties where employees can have snacks or drinks virtually together while video conferencing. This may sound too much and unnecessary, but such activities help reduce feelings of isolation and gloominess while promoting a sense of well-being during such hard times.

5. Focus on what’s important: mental health and well-being of employees

More often than not, it is the most important thing that is always forgotten- the mental health and well-being of employees. This case is more true now during the times of pandemic when people are in a forced lockdown, and many employees have been abruptly stationed to work from home. These factors will naturally affect the mental health of employees. Not to mention the anxiety surrounding losing the job.

The leader should prioritise this. They should often use sentences like “How is this new way of working, working out for you?”, “You can take as much time as you want to adjust to this new way of working.” And always ask how they are doing and mean it.

Consider the factors like anxiety and depression affecting productivity, and expect to hear the noises of kids and pets while communicating with them in the background. Promptly respond to their queries. Ascertain them about the security of their job.

If you are interested in taking care of the health and general well-being of your employees, enroll yourself and your team in this 10-minute course now!

Sentrient has created an open-to-the-public library of free courses that aim to make the lives of employees and employers easier during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Take the benefit now: https://www.sentrient.com.au/covid-19-coronavirus-courses

For more information, call us at 1300 040 589 or email us at info@sentrient.com.au.

Stay in. Stay safe.