Being a manager or leader of a business is already hard work! Now, imagine converting your workforce to remote almost overnight and becoming a remote leader?
This is the challenge that many leaders are now facing as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Many workplaces have converted to remote operations for the safety of the workforce. While some companies are well-equipped to make the adjustment, it's new territory for others!
One thing is for certain: good leadership is essential to leading a workforce through such a transition. If the transition goes well, not only will the business be able to continue operating during the crisis, but it will also learn important lessons as remote work flexibility continues to increase in the coming years.
Here are some tips for leaders adjusting to this new reality:
Be Understanding Of Employees
In this era of work, many people have experience working from home, but not everyone. As a leader, you may not even have experience working from home. That's why patience and communication are important!
The combination of adjusting to remote work and dealing with personal and family obligations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic can be a source of stress. Check in with your employees, offer assistance when you can, and offer an understanding ear when appropriate.
In some cases, you may find that some of your employees know more about working remotely than you do. Don't be afraid to lean on some of those employees for help when you need to. A good leader can admit that they don't know everything and aren't afraid to ask for help.
Keep A Steady Hand
While it's important to be understanding of employees throughout this adjustment, as things begin to settle it's also important to establish business as usual. Set clear expectations and remind employees that even though the work environment has changed, their job responsibilities remain.
It's possible that some expectations may have to be adjusted because of the remote work environment, but it's important to address those adjustments early, so employers aren't just winging it.
It's also important to realize that while working from home has some built-in flexibility that comes with it, it's still beneficial to set deadlines and establish a somewhat normal schedule.
Good leaders may have to make changes on the go as they learn more about working from home. Just make sure the reasons for those changes are effectively communicated with the workforce.
Hold Virtual Meetings
Between internal communication platforms, Google Chat, and emails, there are plenty of ways for the remote workforce to stay connected. However, it's important to hold video meetings frequently. They can be large company-wide meetings or small group meetings. It's just important to have some sort of face-to-face interaction with the workforce, even if it can't be in person.
Seeing the faces of your workforce restores some sense of normalcy and it just makes for better overall communication.
Working at home can be very isolating at times, and it's sometimes easy to forget that you're on a team and working towards common goals. A good leader has to do everything possible to make the workforce feel connected when they are apart.
Frequent video meetings are also a good way to check in on projects and others tasks, to make sure nothing is falling through the cracks.
Encourage Employees To Have Fun
Virtual happy hours and lunches are a great way to have fun and strengthen bonds between the workforce. Co-workers can talk a little shop during these meetings, but they're mostly just for having fun. Sometimes co-workers will talk about life and share some laughs, and other times they'll play games, such as trivia.
As a leader, if you're able to join in on some of these events, that's great! But, even if you're unable to, at the very least encourage your employees to hold these events from time to time.
No matter what the workforce looks like, we all need to have fun sometimes.
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