Coronavirus fears are driving a dramatic spike in remote work. A sudden shift like this could disrupt your team’s normal rhythms and create all kinds of issues. But it might be impossible to avoid. So what can you do to prepare for this challenge? What’s the best way to minimize disruptions and—should the need arise—keep your homebound team on track? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.
- Start with some self care. Acknowledge your own fears and anxieties and give yourself permission to voice and address them. Think of it as putting that airplane oxygen mask on first so you don’t pass out trying to help everyone else.
- Acknowledge that your team are also especially anxious right now (who isn’t?) and make a conscious effort to lead with empathy as you work through this change.
- Next, make sure you have a clear remote work policy in place so your team knows what’s expected of them. And what they can expect from you. The policy doesn’t need to be excessively formal—a simple working agreement might suffice. Key areas of alignment include working hours, response times and work-life balance rules.
- Physical distance can weaken team alignment, so spend some time clarifying goals and roles. What outcome are you all working towards and what is everyone’s role in achieving them? Now’s the time to make sure there’s no room for ambiguity.
- Be sure to establish a consistent cadence of meetings—tighter and more formalized than what you’re used to when everyone’s in the office. And work hard to stick to it once it’s established. Don’t cancel regular meetings unless you absolutely have to.
- It can be hard to stay focused and engaged in a virtual meeting. To combat this tendency, follow these research-backed tips to encourage your remote team members to speak up and take part.
- Tools are probably part of the solution too. But before you invest in new ones, consider tweaking the way you use what you’ve got already. For inspiration, read about how the people team at Slack use their own tool differently when the work is happening remotely.
- A lack of face time can make it very tempting to micromanage remote workers. Whatever you do, resist this temptation.
- Last but not least, take steps to keep your culture healthy and your team connected. For example, consider implementing virtual coffee breaks—remote meetings focused on socializing instead of work.