For this post, we’ll skip the world news update. The bottom line is – many of us are now working remotely for the foreseeable future.
In this new context, let’s talk about three groups of people that could (and probably are) handling this badly, and how you as a manager can help navigate them through the cripplingly mundane nature of working from home in a pandemic.
Some people prefer remote working. They adapt well to it; they find it less distracting and can actually thrive working somewhere that isn’t a busy, noisy office. Good for them.
And then, there’s the rest of us.
Just a quick note on extroverts. They charge their battery around other people. Interacting with others and taking part in collaborative tasks gives them energy. In turn, this allows them to feel engaged and alive. If you’re less familiar with the true definitions and behaviors of extroverts versus introverts, be sure to check out this SAP Litmos Training Content course on cognitive functions
But constant remote working creates loneliness. Your extroverts will probably feel cut-off, which can lead to a lack of productivity. Basically, some days, they’ll feel like they’ve lost their mojo.
The solution? Get your extroverts using those communication skills they love to use. Set meetings, and not just about work projects. Check how they’re actually doing; set aside half an hour to chat about how they’re feeling and make the effort to create social events. We know Zoom and Teams invites can make some people groan but set them anyway. Have a team breakfast and chat about what you watched on TV last night. Or get everyone together in the evening for a little drink and a chat. This stuff goes a long way to remind people that they’re part of a team, and not alone.
These are also really important tips for your team members who live alone.
For parents in your team, they might now have two full-time jobs.
Be mindful that if their kids are around, their lives might be anarchy right now – so they’re probably more tired than usual.
Aside from set, fixed meetings, you’re going to need to be flexible with parents. For instance, instead of asking for something “by 5pm,” consider saying “by the end of your day.” Five o’clock might well be the most chaotic time in their household. Nailing parents down to too many time frames right now won’t be helpful. So, if they can complete their tasks outside the normal hours and create an updated schedule that works for them, be open to it.
Find out about their home life if you can. Are they supporting their kids with home-schooling? Are they alone, or do they have a spouse’s support? As always, communication is key! Just show you care, and you want to make their lives easier.
Younger team in the family home
Lastly, some of your younger team may have moved back into the family home, or maybe they were there beforehand. These poor souls might now be tiptoeing around other family members, with less space and freedom during the day. Come on, you remember living at home. They’re probably feeling a bit stressed.
Find out their situation and be sensitive to it.
Check that they have all the equipment and tools to complete their tasks – because working at the kitchen table with siblings and parents rushing through the house might be tricky. Things like headphones (to block out the noise), a monitor (to help make their workspace feel like a workspace), or even an actual office chair could be really helpful to them. And just like parents, they may have more crazy times of the day in their household. So, treat them with the same courtesy that you would the others.
To sum up all of the above:
- Things are hard when you work remotely all the time.
- Be patient with your team. They might be handling a lot more than they usually would.
- Check-in regularly – and not just about work. People need consistency. Check how they’re feeling and create virtual social events. If they’re struggling, ask how you can help.
- Make sure they’re fully equipped to do their role remotely.
- Let go of normal hours. Whether you like it or not, 9-5 likely isn’t happening every day now, and you shouldn’t expect it to. Being tied to a computer all day in your spare room/living room/kitchen with no interaction isn’t a fair expectation. If they’re completing their job on time – that should be the priority.
And lastly, encourage them to go outside. Get them to go on walks. They need fresh air to stay sane. We all do.