By this point, we’re likely all experts in the basics of coronavirus prevention: wash your hands, don’t touch your face, maintain a distance of 6 feet, and stay home if you’re not feeling well. While many of us are now in remote work locations, expertise in effective remote work can still be elusive. We must continue to learn how to be efficient and effective when working in virtual teams and an important part of that is paying attention to our individual and team mental well-being. Focusing on the human aspect of this crisis – addressing the toll this stress is placing on your employees – is critical if we want to sustain a remote work environment.
As your team settles in and adjusts to remote work, following are some basics that address the human side.
Take Time: Everyone is adjusting in one way or another. Take time for yourself and give time to others to adjust. This can manifest itself in many ways. It could take a bit longer for folks to join a meeting or get comfortable sharing and collaborating content virtually during and outside of meetings. Expect overall team productivity to dip slightly as everyone figures out new processes. There’s also the mental toll of flooding news and changing family dynamics. Agree as a team to allow for flex time to take care of personal lives that are now directly intersecting with work life.
Be Human: Engage with teams and individuals on topics outside of the work at hand. It’s too easy now to have back-to-back-to-back virtual meetings where folks are jumping from one discussion and topic to another without a single break. Everyone ends up exhausted by 1 pm. Give team-defined breaks. When you are in a meeting, spend time chatting about non-work and non-COVID-19 topics. Talk about the craziest thing that happened on a virtual call (cat attacks are trending). Talk about what the kids are up to. Share ideas of how folks are distracting themselves. The casual hallway conversations need to happen. So carve out time in meetings to address that. We all need to remember our human connections.
Lead with Grace: Times are trying and confusing right now. Great leadership allows those around us to understand our part in all of this and how we can contribute to the overall success. Projects go on. Business must function. We still have purpose in life and our tasks allow goodness to go on. Double down on project leadership skills and help teams succeed. Be present in meetings. Communicate status often. Listen for new roadblocks and seek help from others. These leadership traits are our bread and butter and are more important now than ever. Show up confident, positive and with a smile. Everyone will appreciate it. You can be realistic without gloom and doom.
Bonus Tip: Consider cutting 5 minutes off every meeting – or more. Make your 30 minute meetings, 25 minutes long, condense 60 minute meetings down to 45 minutes. We deserve to give each other a moment to breathe…if not provide time for a very human bio-break!