Earlier this month, we passed the one year anniversary of the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in our area. Many teams who left the office last March thought that they would be back a few weeks later, but much of the workforce is still operating from home. How do we continue to keep up productivity and teamwork when we haven’t seen each other face-to-face in almost a year?
Early on in the pandemic, we released a blog, “How to Gain Traction when Managing a Remote Team.” We will be revisiting some of these tips and adding to some new ones.
1. Remember to be empathetic
At this point, everyone has exasperated Zoom parties, new hobbies, and staying at home in general. Remember your team has likely gone a year without seeing family and friends regularly or experiencing a day-to-day normal. While we certainly understand more about the virus than we did a year ago and vaccines are becoming more accessible, it is still important for employers to understand that we aren’t quite out of the woods yet.
While last March many people were scared and stressed out, this March many people are experiencing pandemic-fatigue and burnout. As you are dealing with your team, remember none of your years have been like you planned.
2. Continue to Celebrate Milestones
Many companies have let work anniversaries, birthdays, or project accomplishments go by the wayside during work from home. It is important to remind employees that their accomplishments and milestones are still important. Consider including smaller milestones as well, like a sale an employee made, a new project or a positive customer review.
Without the water cooler talk, employees likely aren’t hearing what people outside their team are doing. Compile emails or set aside time in meetings to announce and recognize employees for their hard work during a difficult time.
3. Improve Connection Time
The number one complaint of remote employees is loneliness. With the pandemic on top of remote work, people aren’t necessarily getting to socialize outside of work and mental health is suffering. People are experiencing the same day after day monotony that is another contributing factor to poor mental health. Provide access to resources or build some time in the day for a short exercise class or learning on managing mental health.
Have supervisors meet with employees one on one to hear how they are doing and what areas of support they need. At this point in the pandemic, employees are no longer looking for virtual game nights, but real connections with their coworkers. Most people have had a tough year from changes in their day to day, to even losing people to the virus, no one has come out of this unscathed. Having these talks with employees will remind them, even if you can’t see each other face-to-face doesn’t mean you have to be totally disconnected.
Some companies have even given a bonus day off or a cut out early Friday afternoon for all employees to give them some time to rest and recharge. Although that doesn’t work for every company, a day off is certain to boost morale. You could do something smaller like allowing employees to leave an hour early on a sunny day. A break from the day to day or an unexpected break can be a great morale booster.
4. Communicate & Set Expectations Properly
Continue to set up reasonable and clear guidelines and expectations. Revisit guidelines you set early on and proactively communicate any adjustments with your team. Are your working hours still making sense? Do you still feel your team is being productive or do you need to reset expectations? Maybe early on, people were doing school with their kids during the day and working at night, but with many schools back in-person that may not make sense anymore.
Be clear in what you are asking of your team and provide the support to accomplish it. Your dashboard will come in to help here as well. Pull up your team’s dashboard and go over KPIs and goals for quarter one.Discuss why some are off-track and celebrate ones that are ahead of schedule. Although it is hard to believe we are almost through Q1, start off Q2 with a team that understands their priorities and feels they have a team behind them that can help.
5. Be positive
As a leader, people are looking to you for how they respond and react to situations. If every meeting has negative energy from people, they won’t feel good about signing into meetings anymore. Virtual meetings already have their difficulties, so trying to keep a better attitude will ultimately lead to a more productive meeting. Take time at the start to have someone mention a positive thing that happened to them or ask for a someone’s dog to come say hi.
You could even run a contest through your dashboard for tracking steps, eating healthy, or days working out. As we are nearing the end of having to stay home, many people have these goals personally. Provide check-ins on meetings and find some sort of fun prizes for the most enthusiastic, most committed or most encouraging people who participate.
6. Be organized
One of the hardest parts of remote teamwork is organization. Teams may feel isolated and like they do not understand what is going on in other parts of the company or even their own team. Set up your dashboard so people can see exactly what is going on and keep it up to date. Remember to pull it up and screen share during meetings so everyone can see progress towards goals and accomplishments of their fellow team members. Don’t have a dashboard? Contact us today to begin to get yours set up!
While it is easy to be discouraged as we pass year one of the pandemic, keeping your team’s morale high and staying connected will result in a more productive team. We are all hoping to be back to seeing each other face-to-face soon, but until then, be empathetic with your team.