Working remotely was becoming the new normal long before COVID-19. About 4.7 million employees worked from home at least half of the week before the pandemic forced brick-and-mortar locations to transition to fully remote. Despite this significant shift in working culture, employees were still expected to deliver high-quality services, products and customer care – all while handling new systems and distractions.
It’s incumbent on business leaders, therefore, to prioritize supporting their teams, reminding them that the organization values their individual contributions. Below, I’ve outlined four of the strategies that managers can use to uplift their employees during the age of COVID-19 and beyond:
1. Increase employee engagement
Employees are less likely to engage with leaders if they have communicated infrequently and impersonally. It can be intimidating for an employee to reach out with a problem or concern, especially if they’re feeling more isolated from remote work. Managers need to maintain constant communication. Scheduling and keeping regular times to connect demonstrates your commitment to your employees. It shows that you are their teammate through the challenges they are facing and reminds them you can help lend a hand. As a result, individuals are more likely to open up about a problem that might be impeding their performance.
2. Streamline positive communication
To effectively manage a remote work team, leaders need to disseminate information properly. By creating a weekly newsletter, for instance, your team can keep updated on all of the relevant company information, upcoming virtual events, volunteer opportunities and even congratulatory announcements on a personal level. At my company, there is an abundance of large televisions in our office that display various happenings and events, company announcements, celebrations and the health of the company. This kept team members connected. With all of our employees working remotely, the newsletter serves the same purpose as the screens.
Newsletters also provide an opportunity for feedback from team members. Listening is just as important as sharing. Surveys in existing newsletters can offer an anonymous way for employees to provide feedback, offering insights into employee needs. By having a grasp on these needs and concerns, company leaders can tailor solutions to alleviate pain points.
3. Incorporate fun into the workday
Fun team-building activities in the weekly schedule allow for a level of comfort and trust needed for productive, constructive and resilient teams. Managers can get to know their colleagues on a more personal level – and vice versa. Having fun with co-workers increases morale. Showing authentic appreciation is just as important to team morale as getting to know one another, having a laugh and building camaraderie.
4. Create a culture of trust
Trust must go in more than one direction. Business leaders need to rely on the knowledge and experience that elevated them to the position they are in. By extension, employees also need to demonstrate they will execute on delivering the best product possible to customers no matter the location. Likewise, teams need to extend this sentiment to their colleagues.
There’s no doubt that remote work is the future. As employees continue to navigate challenges of the “new normal,” it is important for them to know they are supported. Getting this right now puts organizations in the strongest possible position to reap permanent benefits from effective remote working in the post-pandemic world.