Workplaces around the world are encouraging teams to work from home to limit their potential exposure to the coronavirus, or Covid-19, and flatten the curve. That seems like the right move, as the World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic on March 11. However, while it could help prevent your employees from contracting Covid-19, and reduce the spread of the virus, it does have the possibility to create a less than productive work environment.
Read on for five areas to keep in mind while you’re trying to keep employees engaged and help them make the most of their days working from home.
Especially when you’re physically apart from your team, it’s so important to stay in communication. Barbara Larson, a professor of management at Northeastern University in Boston, told the BBC, “Have a really clear set of expectations for communications day to day.” Whether that’s starting your day off with a call or sticking to your usual meeting schedule, maintaining that communication will help your team continue to feel united.
The good news about staying in contact with your team when you’re all working remotely is that there are so many amazing tools at your fingertips to keep employees engaged. From Zoom to Skype to FaceTime to Slack, you can continue to stay connected through a variety of virtual meeting services. New York-based designer Claudia Li shared with the Business of Fashion that screen sharing helps her team, too. No matter what option you choose for your team, make sure you’ve determined exactly what they need to continue completing their daily tasks.
As you would with a normal workday, encourage your team to take regular breaks. Psychology Today published a study in 2017 that demonstrated higher productivity when employees take breaks. Getting a chance to reset and recharge is essential to avoiding burnout and staying motivated. So whether your employees are taking a break to exercise, get some fresh air or refuel with a healthy, seasonal snack, encourage them to plan those breaks into their days.
We all live in smaller spaces but working from home can necessitate sectioning off an area for work only. If your team is able, encourage them to separate their work from the rest of their life in their home. That means avoiding working from bed, keeping away from the TV, and perhaps separating themselves from the other people who live in their home. All of this will help your employees remain on task and minimise distractions. That said, according to a study from Buffer on remote working, loneliness was the second most-reported challenge, and it made the participants feel less motivated and productive. That means keeping up human contact as often as possible is paramount.
At the end of the day, you are leading a team to a common goal, but doing so through adversity can be a challenge. The most important way to cope and keep employees engaged is through communication and being as specific and unemotional as possible. Forbes suggests eliminating ten emotionally charged and finite words from your vocabulary, including collapsing, impossible and devastated. Even if you are feeling overwhelmed, which is completely justifiable, it’s best to focus on what you can control, and what your team needs. Often, the worst times can bring out the best in people, both on their own and as part of a team.
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