One of the biggest misconceptions about managing remote workers is that it requires an entirely different skill set. You shouldn’t think about remote workers in a fundamentally different way. They are still people working in an organization to get things done.
Bring Empathy to the Table:
This is unlike any situation many of us have dealt with. Employees are balancing full-time work and full-time childcare, not to mention the emotional stress and constant anxiety of a suddenly changed environment. They may also be feeling the financial pressures of spouses or partners who have been laid off.
All of your employees are likely to be more emotionally fragile than usual. Some will be anxious. Some will be angry. Some will feel hopeless or depressed and wonder why work even matters right now.
Especially in the context of an abrupt shift to a remote workforce, it is important for managers to acknowledge stress, listen to employees’ concerns, and empathize with their struggles. The more empathy you can bring the table, the more you can help your team stay on track. Here are some ideas to help:
- Stay calm and positive – your team is looking to you for cues on how to react.
- Focus on achievable tasks to provide a sense of control.
- Check in daily, even if it’s just to say hello.
- Encourage self-care – taking care of oneself is an important way to manage stress.
- Most important: recognize they are doing their best in an extremely challenging situation.
Keep Your Team Connected:
When working virtually it may take extra effort to keep people feeling committed to their team. They need to know that not only they’re contributing true value to the team’s common goals; they are also valuable to the team’s success in achieving them. Some ways to sow this include:
- Having and maintaining non-work-related communication.
- Sharing the future vision of the company.
- Keeping your team informed about how the company is doing. People like to know what’s happening in other parts of the company and how they themselves fit in and are contributing to the bigger picture.
- Getting everyone in your team involved in important events and projects.