In early March, many of us woke to an entirely new reality. Schools were shuttering, restaurants closed to anything but take-out, and businesses began shuffling their employees so they could work from home. As more cities, counties, and states issued Shelter in Place orders for residents, professionals who always went into an office for work found themselves setting up home offices and dialing in remotely. If you find yourself in the position to manage remote teams and keep people involved, here are a few things you can do to keep the company culture positive.
Tools of the Trade
Before we all began sheltering in place, Zoom was not a household name. It was already a popular video conference tool, but today usage has exploded with businesses and universities across the country using the system exclusively for video conferencing. Even elementary, middle, and high schools are tapping into it as a way for teachers and students to connect.
But there are other tools telecommuters have been using for years to help them stay engaged and productive while working from home. They include:
- Slack: a real–time team chat app
- Microsoft Teams: an exclusively Microsoft collaborative product
- Trello: an easy to use project management app
- Chrome Remote Desktop: a browser extension to access a desktop from any device
Host Daily Check-Ins
It didn’t take long for the memes to start after workers began staying home. “Now we’re about to find out which meetings could have been emails,” was a popular one. While that is true in many cases, there is no substitute for real face-to-face connection.
What might have been an in-person meeting in the past is now shifting to video conference software, like Zoom. A phone call is okay in a pinch, but our human need for connection means a meeting on Zoom will be better received.
Along with a daily check-in, you must regularly communicate with your team. Following up isn’t just about reassuring yourself that they are productive at home. You want to be there to show your support and provide assistance when necessary.
You can do this by touching base with a quick text or in the team chat. Let your employees know that you’re available for them to call or text when needed as well.
Throughout this process, no matter how long it lasts, you need to manage your expectations along the way. This isn’t just a shift to a work-from-home structure; it’s a significant and unexpected change for most people.
Right now, while productivity is still important to your business, know that your employees are dealing with a lot. They may have children home and need to manage schoolwork as well as work. They may be caring for a sick family member or be feeling ill themselves. It’s also essential that you recognize the toll this is taking on everyone’s mental health. Stress and anxiety are understandably very high.
At the same time, recognize that this is impacting you as well. It’s okay to take a break. Encourage your team to take breaks as well.
Do you want to know more about managing remote teams?
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