The recent Coronavirus outbreak has been so unprecedented that many organisations and leaders have not been able to prepare for it sufficiently. While many organisations have been offering working from home for a while, few would have predicted that this would be the only way many of us could work for the foreseeable future.
Of course, the COVID-19 outbreak has not only forced working from home where possible, but it has also posed a huge number of other obstacles for businesses, leaders and workers to navigate.
From adjusting to the role of parent-teacher while working from home to doubling up as a volunteer, carer and supporting your community while managing work; there are lots of ways that lives have been affected by the Coronavirus. This doesn’t even take into account those who are ill from the virus as well as working issues such as network outages and supply, hardware requirements, and having the sufficient tools and resources to work.
Obviously, all of the aspects need to be considered with care and thought. But, for teams that are safe and able to work from home, how can you demonstrate effective leadership when you have to lead in lockdown?
Here are some of the top tips for showing support to your team while still being an effective leader for your business.
Create A Common Vision
In these uncertain times, it can be hard to find purpose in what we do. However, as a leader, it is your role to map out this vision for your team. A clear, shared vision that all of your team agrees can be incredibly motivating. It helps to give everyone in your team a sense of purpose and allows them to find focus and clarity in their work.
This vision can also be fantastic for encouraging innovation, creativity and discovering new ways of working that can help to achieve these business objectives. What’s more, by sharing the vision, you’re giving your team the power to change their approach while allowing them to make constructive suggestions for the benefit of the business.
All of this ultimately helps to keep people’s spirits up while ensuring their attention is focused on positive business results.
Focus On Outcomes
Many businesses are reluctant to let staff work from home as they worry productivity will fall. In fact, studies suggest that working from home actually boosts productivity. A Stanford University study found that working from home resulted in a 13% increase in performance.
With this in mind, instilling trust in your team is essential for productive and effective working from home. If you give your staff a list of tasks or activities for the day, staff may be inclined to complete these as quickly as possible – with little thought or attention to what they are doing and why.
Instead, if you focus on the outcomes you want to see, you’ll enjoy better results and performance. Setting your intentions with clear objectives such as a quality standard to adhere to, a specific deadline to meet and a positive result, you don’t need to concern yourself with the employee’s process.
With people under a great deal of stress from the COVID-19 outbreak, now is not the time for micro-management. Instead, set clear goals, but give your team the creativity and flexibility to work how they need to work. As long as the work creates the outcomes you want to achieve, it doesn’t matter how or when your team complete their work.
Check-In But Don’t Check-Up
It is a fine line between being there to support your team and bothering them with persistent communication. It is important to check-in with your team to make sure they’re happy and healthy. But, it is unlikely you’ll need to continually chase for work or to check-in to ensure everyone is working. This wastes your time and theirs.
On the other hand, you may be struggling with constant communication from your team members when you’re trying to work. It can be hard to be available to your team every minute of the day. So, instead, set up drop-in sessions. These virtual drop-ins can allow your team to catch up with you and get the answers they need while also allowing you to carve out time for focus and concentration, without interruption.
It can also help to have a team video-call at a set point in the day. During this, they can fill you in on their progress, as well as allowing your team to stay connected. A video conference needn’t be long, but it can be a welcome opportunity for your team members to connect with each other and enjoy the company of people outside of their home – which can be essential for their wellbeing.
Working from home can improve productivity, but it can also lead employees to struggle to switch off. Furthermore, house confinement can lead to fewer breaks and less exercise. Breaks and regular exercise are essential for employee health, wellbeing and productivity. Even when you’re all working from home, you can encourage breaks, walks and time-out.
The outbreak and lockdown have affected almost everyone on an emotional level and can severely impact our mental health. This is why it is now more important than ever to look at the ways you can improve employee welfare and wellbeing.
It may be as simple as telling everyone to take 15-minutes to make a drink before the next virtual meeting. You can schedule team walks – even if everyone is walking alone. You could even set fun photo challenges where everyone has to take a photo of something, whether that’s some form of nature or something that made them smile that day. You could also take on one of the many home-exercise challenges that are going viral on social media.
Everyone will have a unique set of circumstances to deal with when it comes to lockdown. Some will be parent-teachers, some will be carers, others will have other issues to consider. At this time, while the lockdown is still so new, it is well worth loosening the reins for a little while, so that everyone can adapt to their new routine.
While you should make your expectations of the team clear, keeping an employee-centric approach at this time is vital to reduce stress and anxiety that your team may face. As well as the day-to-day work for your employees, try to give your team time to maintain their personal development and learning. This helps to ensure your top talent continues developing their skillsets and are ready to progress within the business in the future.