Unless you’re an essential worker, the latest Australian government restrictions now stipulate that we must stay at home wherever possible.
While some of us are used to working from home on occasion, for most of us, working from home on an extended basis was never the plan. Supporting your staff in this difficult time involves more than just ensuring they have a reliable internet connection and a comfortable chair.
In the current environment, teams are also dealing with confusion around terms like social distancing, quarantine, isolation and lockdown, as well as economic and financial uncertainty.
While each industry is different and will have its own unique challenges, there are many ways that we can support our staff throughout this uncertain period.
Set clear expectations
With any remote workforce, it is crucial that teams understand what you expect of them. Most likely, your expectations will remain the same as they were when your people were in the office, albeit with some flexibility to account for the current circumstances.
Providing staff with guidelines helps them develop new routines will encourage a sense of normalcy as they begin to adapt to remote working environments.
Consider sharing a company-wide list of expectations for your team to adhere to in their new work-from-home environments. Give them tips to help them adjust to new ways of working, including attending regular team video calls, maintaining a dress code for virtual meetings, and adhering to standard office breaktimes.
Many of your people will be trying to work while juggling kids at home or at-risk family members. You may need to update and adapt workplace policies to support these team members. You might also consider adjusting business hours where possible to accommodate working parents (outside of client deadlines), helping to alleviate additional stressors in a rapidly changing environment.
Support staff with the right technology
Remote working takes away the physical connections for many team members. While the introverts among them may thrive, others will feel disconnected during this time. You can deploy collaborative tools to help your people remain both productive and connected. The right technology, which supports and enhances people’s ability to do their job regardless of their physical location, is critical to success for remote workforces.
Collaborative tools such as OneDrive, Google Docs, or Microsoft Teams, let teammates work together on projects from different geographical locations without losing any productivity. Team members can leave comments and updates for colleagues while editing content, chat within documents where needed, and see changes in real time.
Using collaboration and video communications platforms, your team members can still communicate and work effectively and efficiently without losing anything except the physical presence of their colleagues.
Communicate often and consistently
The COVID-19 global crisis is a constantly changing situation with many different moving parts. When people feel particularly uncertain of the future, it is essential to communicate effectively and efficiently with them.
It’s important to remember that some people may feel more stressed than others, and that overcommunicating in a situation like this is far preferable to having your team wondering what’s happening.
Above all else, it is important to remember that these are uncertain times for everyone the world over. Businesses should factor in a transition period as they move their office-based workers online and they familiarise themselves with a new remote-working environment.