With so many people unexpectedly working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak, many of us are in uncharted territory. Even for those most adept at change, moving quickly from leading an onsite team to a remote team can be quite an adjustment. This post features a few tips to keep in mind that might make the transition to a remote workforce a little easier for you and your team.
Reiterate Company Values and Set Clear Expectations
Even if your team has already left the office, it’s not too late to remind them about company values and your expectations. It’s easier for newly remote employees to stay focused and feel engaged when they’re clear about their mission and what’s expected of them. According to Kristin Brandenburgh of the ITA Group (a company that helps businesses drive employee engagement), “Without clear direction, a remote employee can feel like they’re stranded on an island… Just like you’d take a new employee through an on-boarding process, make sure a remote employee knows what will help them succeed.” Clarifying expectations will also help keep your go-getters from quickly burning out during a time when you need them the most, a recent Forbes article notes.
Any sense of normalcy can be comforting to individuals during times of change. Considering this, do your best to keep the same cadence of meetings as before your team went remote. Even more important than your meeting schedule, embrace video conferencing whenever possible. Seeing each other’s faces will give your team warm fuzzies and help build a sense of community in your new world. Finally, if you have team members in the office as well as online, ask your in-house crew to dial in from their desk instead of congregating in a conference room. This will keep them at a safe social distance and give them a similar meeting experience as their remote teammates.
Small Talk is Important
Working in separate locations doesn’t decrease the need for casual and fun conversations to build relationships and make getting through the workday easier, especially in these weird times! In her post Brandenburgh added, “Don’t be afraid to drop the occasional off-topic IM, email, or funny GIF.” If you haven’t seen it already, this bingo game might be a fun place to start.
Bond & Celebrate Creatively
Even in the short-term, when it comes to celebrating milestones or a job well done, we can take note from companies who rely on remote staff as a regular part of their day-to-day business. Companies like GitLabs, a fully remote organization, have learned that celebrating in creative ways helps boost remote employee morale and keeps them highly engaged. They offer a robust combination of bonuses, vacation time, virtual shout-outs, and branded gifts, depending on the celebration. Plus, let’s be honest, when you’re stuck at home – it’s extra fun to get something unexpected in the mail.
If your company is new to the remote world, you may want to consider sending teammates into their new home offices with a gift of practical tools like branded office accessories, earbuds, or a really cool Rocketbook. Maybe even something a little more fun like fuzzy socks, slippers, or pajama pants. (No one online can see below your waist anyway!) See more ideas here.
What do all of these tips have in common? Communication + Connection! Just because we’re in separate physical locations doesn’t mean that as leaders we should keep to ourselves virtually. It’s vital that we actively communicate and continue to connect with our teams, checking in frequently and regularly without micromanaging. We should be available and engaged on all channels, responding promptly, proactively, and with compassion and honesty. Simply put: Be approachable. Be kind. Be creative. Your team will come out of this experience even stronger for it.