There is no hiding from the profound impact COVID-19 has on our daily lives. Sterling leadership during the pandemic is clamored for as the pandemic has disrupted educational systems, taken away livelihoods, and ruined economies.
Before the pandemic, 15% of US employees were working from home some of the time. When the pandemic unfolds, almost half of US employees work remotely. Remote work isn't new, and it wasn't born overnight. It was the usual way of working, as shown by the history of our world.
From homes to factories to cubicles and now WiFi, the speed of the latter's transition is at times dizzying. It feels like, in the blink of an eye, companies of every size and industry went from office-based to working from home.
Leading Remotely During the Pandemic
Undoubtedly, the pandemic is the catalyst for remote work for many millions of employees worldwide. However, it is only among the reasons it is beneficial to work from home. Indeed, working from home positively impacts the social, economic, personal, and cultural aspects of many lives across the globe, and it is the best path forward.
Leaders must address the four dimensions mentioned below to create an efficient working model.
1. People. Leaders must set direction and help employees work effectively. An excellent way to do this is to energize the team and provide psychological safety.
2. Structure. Remote work amplifies any current lack of clarity and difficulty managing the organization. The solution is to move away from large groups to more minor, cross-functional teams with clear and outcome-based goals.
3. Process. Establishing a consistent cadence of daily and weekly meetings is critical for remote working. This approach usually necessitates a cultural shift, and managers must adapt to increased ambiguity.
4. Technology. Leaders must ensure that the remote workforce has the basics, such as enough bandwidth to be online all day. Tools for spanning content creation, communication, file sharing, managing backlogs, and team culture must meet security and organization requirements.
Managing a team remotely during covid
First and most importantly, ensure that your company is equipped with updated, best-in-class, and secure technology. Source and retain high-level managers who share your ethos, core values, and work ethic.
Great managers who can set meaningful goals must ensure productive remote work. No grandstanders, no power-trippers. Settle feuds without any favoritism. Like you, your managers must be greater than their prejudices. That's what leadership greatness is all about
Leadership During the Pandemic
As the number of coronavirus cases is still on the rise worldwide and more employers move to remote work, leadership is the apparent key to success. And under leadership, there are two factors to work at: the technical ability to pull it off and, most importantly, trust in your workforce.
Here is a catalog of things you may want to consider as a leader moving forward. Challenges of managing remote employees:
Let us have a closer look at some of those challenges:
Working from home can at times feel like a person is isolated. They cannot hear colleagues discussing projects, having lunch, or solving problems together. And the ideas that are kindled from those spontaneous interactions cannot be achieved through virtual communications.
1. Video Call Fatigue.
On top of the technical fuss from joining multiple calls, it is essential to pick up on non-verbal cues, pay attention to pitch and tone, and ready yourself to join a conversation at the right time. And reliable WiFi connections are a big challenge as well.
Hiring the character rather than the resume in a remote work setup is vital. Emails and messages can be misinterpreted. When you do not have the option of face-to-face communications wherein you can decipher a lot through gestures, tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language, the strength of character can help avoid petty assumptions and interpretations.
3. Difficulty in Achieving Worklife Balance.
It is vital to look after mental, physical, and social health when working from home. The other side of greater autonomy and flexibility is to get the right balance between work and personal and family obligations. The place that was a place of solitude is now merged into different workstations.
How to Manage a Team Remotely During this Crisis?
Understanding how to support these employees virtually is becoming increasingly important as the virtual workplace becomes the norm for many employees.
1. Clearband regular communications via a Variety of Media (One-to-one and Team Meetings)
If your employees work from home, you must adapt your communication and interactions with them. Inadequate communication can cause an employee to feel isolated and disconnected from the rest of the team. Furthermore, a line manager may be unaware if and when a staff member requires assistance.
2. Provide cutting-edge technology and IT support
When your employees work from home, you must provide the appropriate IT support level with excellent assistance to employees with computer issues. This will keep your employees from becoming dissatisfied.
Most importantly, it will help maintain some level of security and protect work files when the employees employ a decent anti-virus program.
3. Set Clear Expectations for Working Hours
It is also good to set clear expectations for the working hours you expect from those you manage. Just as the employee must be transparent, you, as the manager or employer, must inform staff if there are specific periods when they must be available due to business needs.
To avoid burnout, you must, of course, allow your employees time for breaks and do not overburden them with unreasonable demands.
4. Encourage Virtual Social Events
Social interactions are undoubtedly more challenging to create in a virtual environment. Even if it's online, you should still try to create a social aspect to your employees' work environment as an employer.
Managing employees who work from home, in other words, entails more than just the work itself. Consider the individuals themselves and how you, as a staff member, can support their social needs. Indeed, this is a significant morale boost.
5. Make Sure the Office Set-up is Safe and Ergonomic
Work to ensure that your employees who work from home receive appropriate guidance and advice regarding their working environment. Provide clear instructions to employees and consider creating a document outlining best practices for their office setup. Include ergonomics tips for the home office.
6. Create a Working from Home (WFH) and Work From Anywhere (WFA) Policy
A policy can help to summarize expectations and what resources are available. Another advantage of having a policy is that employees can refer to it if they are unsure.
How to Support Employees Working From Home?
1. Put a Premium on self-motivated Individuals.
This is crucial for anyone that works on their schedule. However, the topic of self-motivation is far from simple. People can be motivated by external and internal things, such as a desire to do something or a need for money. So look for positive values like commitment, optimism, and initiative. Pride of accomplishment is a commendable character.
2. Respect independence.
Management might want to know the whereabouts of its remote employees during shifts. However, as long as the employee turns out good work and reaches goals, you have to respect and recognize her independence and method of doing things.
When managing employees who work from home (WFH) or a remote location (WFA), empower and reward them. Don't think that because employees work from home, they don't welcome appreciation from you. Appreciation and gratitude from you show outstanding leadership during the pandemic.
3. Empower your team.
When employees work from home, take advantage of the opportunity to empower your team. Give them some control over their jobs and the authority to make decisions without consulting their supervisors or bosses constantly. When employees are empowered and trusted, you will find that they thrive and are much more productive.
4. Encourage employees to take breaks and take care of their health.
When working remotely, your employees must take the breaks they are entitled to maintain their health. Workplace health, in other words, is still essential even if the workplace is their own home!
5. Be alert to signs of distress.
If you are a manager or team leader, you must listen to your employees and detect signs of distress. For example, if team members are withdrawn during virtual meetings or do not respond to emails, this could be a sign that something is wrong.
Then again, everything may be fine with them. So, if this type of behavior occurs only once or twice, there may be nothing to worry about. However, if it becomes a recurring issue, it may be worthwhile to have a one-on-one virtual meeting with your team member to learn more and see if they require any assistance.
Some team members may be proactive in seeking assistance, while others may not, so keep an eye out for any signs of distress. Make sure to include information about available assistance. It is pointless to assist if employees are unaware of its availability. So, advertise and communicate what support options are available for staff as clearly and widely as possible.
Managing Remote Workers Toolkit
Working remotely can be highly beneficial, but it can also be challenging. The tools listed below will assist your employees in organizing their workspace and their tasks.
- Plan the day.
- Plan the tasks, then execute them!
- Maintain an up-to-date calendar.
- If you share a team calendar, work plan, goal sheet, or other progress documents, make sure to keep those up to date as well.
- Transparency in the task-tracking process.
- Save and share work progress on a shared drive, SharePoint site, or OneDrive.
- Good anti-virus program (such as Norton, Kaspersky, or McAfee)
- A clean-up tool (such as Norton Utilities or McAfee Quick clean)
- PC repair and tweak tools such as Reimage
Maintain regular check-in communication with coworkers or peers, team members, and your supervisor. When it is necessary to see other people's faces, turn on the video or webcam.
The Final Note
If your company cannot trust its employees to do their jobs without a manager standing over their shoulder, then either your company has hired the wrong people, or you have management issues about giving trust. Among the foundations of a successful remote setup is confidence in employees to perform work efficiently and without micromanagement.
As a leader, employee engagement can be achieved if you can find your way and come out of the above-mentioned excellently. You will have happy, satisfied, and productive employees. Happy employees equal happy customers. And most of all, your company is on a sure path to growth and success.
Leadership during the pandemic is a great responsibility. But it is also a privilege. You are in a position of power you can positively exploit. Provide an opportunity to conduct business less stridently and more productively. Use it wisely and soar high!