In the past few months, the world shudders with the staggering number of infected cases and fatalities caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. As the pandemic continuously wreaks havoc across the globe, every state has succumbed to a mandatory community quarantine causing a dramatic lifestyle change.
The unbridled spread of the deadly coronavirus has prodded most of the business firms to leverage on working remotely as a continuity plan. Although the work-from-home scheme is already an accepted norm, the swift transition has sprouted a new crisis for some industries.
As a result, many leaders will find themselves in a crucial position when it comes to managing a remote workforce for the first time. Not to mention, the lack of preparation and training makes it even more intimidating.
While digital advancements are readily available, unavoidable distractions such as the stress brought by the contagion could lead to a potential decline in the productivity of the new virtual employees. This is where remote culture becomes the other side of the coin.
Managing a dispersed team is an entirely different task from handling an onsite workforce. Besides the absence of face-to-face supervision, home-based workers are prone to communication and performance loopholes. As a leader, how are you going to mend those gaps and keep them effective?
5 Ways to Keep Your Employees Productive during a Pandemic
1. Communicate Daily. According to empirical data, 38% of the home-based workers receive inadequate information from their management. Effective communication plays a critical role in business—and even more when handling a fully distributed workforce.
In this case, establishing frequent check-ins can ensure the smooth transition among your team with the new workplace structure. Maximize the use of the right channels such as video-conferencing platforms for two-way interaction and project management tools for a more collaborative approach.
Transparency also comes along with open communication. By keeping your employees updated on the latest announcements and informing them of the changes in procedures helps mitigate ambiguity. Accordingly, it also gives your employees an immediate awareness of where your company stands in the midst of a crisis.
2. Define Your Goals. Setting goals that are clear, structured, and attainable binds your geographically scattered team to work towards a certain path; as well as, keeping them in tune with your company’s vision.
In fact, a study by IZA Institute of Labor Economics reveals that goal-setting can potentially bolster the performance of the employees. Think of it as a blueprint. If they have the big picture in mind, they will be more consistent and motivated to achieve it.
Further, it can also lessen the chance of getting burnout among your remote workforce. As the current set-up allows them to work flexibly at their own pace, having no clear guideline could result in overwork that can potentially lead your employees to exhaustion.
Thus, goal-setting helps them to focus on a certain task, segregate and act on those of urgent priorities, and delivers what is expected of them on time.
3. Show Compassion. With the current pandemic sending distress across the world, it is easy for your remote workers to feel worried and unsettled. Promoting an environment rooted in compassion will prevent their morale from subsiding and build resilience in your workforce.
Cheer up your employees, offer words of encouragement, and instill a positive mindset. Make sure that you’re giving them enough assurance that you got their backs during these tough times.
Also, you can try inviting them to webinars about mental health welfare that offers free counseling. This is to help them recuperate from anxiety and stress brought by the current situation. Be an advocate for self-care and provide additional support if needed.
4. Recognize Employee Efforts. Praise and recognition are pivotal in the workplace. Besides, Harvard Business School’s behavioral study reveals that both are linked to increased engagement and productivity among workers.
Start including a weekly virtual pat on your agenda to recognize hard work and reward outstanding employees.
In fact, just by a simple way of saying “Thank You” and “Good Job!” can help your remote workers feel acknowledged of their valuable efforts, and it gives them a higher sense of achievement and purpose.
Moreover, providing positive and honest feedback will also amplify their chance of staying motivated. This can also help them track their progress and improve on the areas where they are lacking.
Furthermore, offering chances for growth is also important even when managing them remotely. This can be in the form of one-on-one training or weekly seminars on skills development.
5. Keep Social Connection. Perhaps one of the pitfalls of having a distributed team is the lack of human interaction. And one way to address this gap is by promoting a culture of belongingness.
It is fundamental to engage your remote employees in non-work conversations, such as hosting daily challenges, virtual coffee chat, or even a simple “How are you doing?” can lead to a deep, worthwhile talk. Think of it as an ice breaker to reinforce bonds among your workforce.
Consequently, fostering a good psychological environment will not only bolster productivity but also reduce stress, promote a culture of normality, and appease the desolation caused by working from home.
Managing remotely can be a daunting task, and likely skill to be developed over time. It may need several trial and error processes to determine what kind of strategies are best suited to keep your employees productive and engaged during this kind of setup.
Perhaps, one fundamental recipe of being a good remote leader is to be able to create an atmosphere of trust. Give up a little bit of control and build confidence in your team. Be a proponent of optimism and compassion as that’s what everyone needs in this era of great unknown.