Empathy is the cornerstone of positive workplace culture, and demonstrating an understanding of the experiences of your team members is a great way to foster a sense of belonging and team spirit, even in remote working situation.
Here are a few tips for leading your remote team through this unprecedented period of change.
1. Be flexible with working hours
When possible, exercise as much flexibility with your employees’ schedules as possible. With kids now at home, new rules on grocery shopping, a lot of disruptions to deal with, people will need space and flexibility to make everything work.
2. Check-in daily, even for just 10 mins
Frequent communication is essential, and that is doubly true with previously co-located teams now working remotely. Some employees who find themselves abruptly teleported into rudimentary home office operations will often end up working more hours than they did when commuting to the office.
Things are changing daily, and we don’t yet know for sure how long the situation could last, so we need to schedule check-ins as frequently as possible. These can be formal recurring meetings on your calendar or “virtual coffees” where you share an informal video chat with no set agenda.
3. Encourage virtual house tours
With the boundaries between work and home disintegrated for many, employees are now in competition with their significant others and school-aged children for viable working accommodations. Some amount of distraction and impact on your employees’ productivity should be expected.
Let your team know that it’s fine if they aren’t dressed in their business casual best or if their visible workspaces show signs of normal humanoid existence. Model this by encouraging home-tours and letting them see some of your authentic at-home self, including family members, pets, and lived-in living spaces.
4. Allow space for vulnerability
When you’re talking with individual team members, let them know you’re listening and care about their health and well-being. Ask how they and their families are doing and give them time to talk about whatever is on their minds. If they are parents, acknowledge the difficulty of navigating this new normal with children. It’s also okay to be vulnerable and let them know what you are going through and the challenges you may have.
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