There is little left to dispute the fact that Covid-19 has taken the definition of “work from home” to the next level. While a few employees were already accustomed to working from home, at least part of their times, the new reformation has now extended this (in)convenience of working from home to all of us, almost making it the new standard. But contrary to how one would expect at the beginning of it all, working from home has actually made things quite challenging - of course, things would have been different had it been a well-planned and pre-trained work-from-home leadership training exercise. Typical challenges inherent in remote work include:
- Lack of access to information
- Less focus due to distractions at home
- Technical issues - system errors, electricity, internet connectivity, etc.
- Absence of an ergonomic setup leading to health issues
- Depression due to lack of interaction
- Declining attachment towards the company and the job in general
- No clear work-life demarcation
- No physical supervision
Nevertheless, there are specific, research-based steps that leaders can take without much effort to improve the engagement and productivity of remote employees, even when there is little time to prepare. Pragati leadership - a leading virtual teams training organisation, brings you 3 key pointers that leaders can adopt to make a difference in the mundane WFH lives of their employees and maintain productivity
The role of leaders in supporting remote employees
As much as the challenges working from home may seem to bring, there are a few quick and effective ways on how to prepare your virtual teams for the long haul:
- Regularly Connecting with Employees
Leaders should regularly connect with their team members on a call - either one-on-one or a group call - and make it one of their daily habits to promote remote working. Explore more options than simply sticking to WhatsApp and email alone. Make use of video conferencing tools and software available to overcome the lack of face to face communication and enrich the call with as many visual cues as possible. This is the closest resemblance to an actual physical meeting. This call should be a forum for employees to place their concerns and questions and to know that you are aware of them. In situations where listening to the person takes much precedence than watching them, resort to other audio platforms that do not divide bandwidth between voice and video, giving you a much clearer communication experience.
- Hold Virtual Social Gatherings
Corporate trainers suggest that the best way to promote team interaction is to reserve some time at the beginning of a team call for non-work related discussions with phrases such as "Let's spend the first few minutes of the meeting catching up with each other" or simply "how was your weekend?". You can hold virtual tea breaks and snacks party where everyone gets some items to eat simultaneously and share (the visuals) online mimicking an actual get together. Note that there is a high scope to get carried away with such events or end up feeling forced or artificial - in which case it is up to the leader to gauge the spirit of the team and set the level & frequency accordingly. Remember, the whole idea is to keep the team connected to each other, reduce social isolation, and to potentially improve the engagement and productivity of employees.
- Empathize with your teammates
The abrupt shift from office to home has been difficult to embrace for many employees - especially those whose nature of work heavily involved interacting with team-mates, co-ordination with the clients, and other things of similar nature. Then there are those who do not have a suitable environment at home or constantly have kids and family around who naturally divide a lot of attention. Also, not to mention the non-availability of ergonomic furniture, internet connection, electricity fluctuations, and many other things which make it tremendously challenging to work smoothly. Despite that, many employees are expected to work anytime they are summoned merely by the fact that they are home. On the other hand, they are also blamed for being less productive than expected. While there might be some truth to this, its not always the case. A leader can take into account these factors to exercise a certain level of leniency and frequently get a check on them to empathizing with them and appreciating them for delivering despite the challenges. This would make a great increment in the attitude & productivity of the employee when they know that their efforts are being recognized.
Conducting leadership development programs to address the issues of virtual team management in detail can go a long way in running an organization remotely and yeilding successful output from your employees. It can not only help tackle the issues caused by working virtually but also train them to tackle unprecedented events in the future. Contact Pragati Leadership, today at 9730466890!