The world is swirling with information, advice, and perspectives on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; the immediate and longer term impact on our health, systems, economy, and even sanity as many organizations transition from in-office to a remote work model.
As someone who has largely spent their career building, managing, and scaling remote teams in the nonprofit sector, I’m familiar with the challenges associated with this model and it’s no mean feat to make the switch overnight. It involves agility, resourcefulness, collaboration and, most importantly, trust.
As employees hustle to establish a new way of working, leaders can ease the transition with a few key recommendations:
Provide Frequent, Clear Communication
Update team members regularly on changes to business operations, strategy, and other relevant areas, helping them stay informed and engaged in the organization and their role within it.
The landscape will change every day and, with it, the moods and motivation level of your team. Continue to ask how they’re doing, what they need to be successful in this moment, and what input/ideas they have to help the organization — and their colleagues and clients — meet your current challenges.
Introduce (or Amplify) Technology to Stay Connected
To help alleviate the pain points of “social distancing” and even self-isolation, encourage employees to stay in close contact with each other and you, the senior leader. Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts — all are excellent options for fostering connection and mutual support.
Celebrate the Wins
Even during difficult periods, every team, every business, will see wins. They may be small, but be sure to celebrate even the tiny victories with your team as you stabilize your footing and start to regain momentum both inside and outside your organization.
Pay Attention to Health and Wellbeing
During times of stress — especially our unprecedented, unpredictable times right now — it’s critical to care for your physical and mental fitness and those of your team members. Following the “oxygen mask” theory (take care of yourself first so you can take care of others), mind yourself and your family, and support your colleagues in maintaining balance and vitality.
Give your employees a little time and space to establish a “new normal.” Don’t track the green dot or look over their “digital shoulder,” so to speak. With the support of their leader, employees will feel encouraged and inspired to continue to do good work.
The benefits to remote work have been publicized by innovators and advocates for years now: increased flexibility and productivity (no commute); more opportunities for better work/life balance; reduced costs and overhead for employers; and increased employee engagement and retention.
Right now, organizations the world over are being tested to meet the needs of their business, their clients, and employees, by adapting and implementing new ways of working. What is a crisis is also a learning opportunity and a lesson in resilience.
Together, we will prevail.
Geoff Hucker is CEO of Beyond the Orphanage (BTO), leading a global team that works with children who have been trafficked or displaced by their families. BTO aims to support, enable, and empower at-risk orphaned children to become self-reliant adults.
Geoff is also founder and CEO of Work for Impact, a digital platform offering NFP, NGO, and Social Enterprises access to a global, pre-vetted, and qualified pool of freelance talent with a passion for work with a purpose. Work for Impact launches in April 2020.