With almost hourly Covid-19 announcements on closures, new cases, and recommendations, your head may be spinning. Employees are looking for guidance, and we are facing a unique situation where we are figuring out how to handle as we go. How do you manage communication? How do you support your employees? How do you ensure your business goals are still met?
We’re here to help - here are some of our tips:
With many employees confined to their homes, they may have partners, roommates and children all trying to fight for space and focus. Acknowledge the difficulty and stress your employees may be facing, and normalize the fact that there might be a child interrupting or partner on the phone in the same room (Mute button for the win on Zoom/Hangouts!). To help, encourage employees to be transparent about their WFH situation, and if possible, support flexible work hours as needed in order to get work done.
Focus on the essentials.
With the changes and many of your employees working from home for the first time, there will be a learning curve! Support getting them up to speed on the basics:
Make sure to provide training and resources when possible on how to best utilize your remote working tools (ex. Zoom training, Slack/Messenger training, sharing expectations, etc.)
Review your project planning, goals, and deadlines coming up - and think realistically whether you will be able to meet them. If not, proactively move deadlines and communicate changes.
Now is also a good time to really think about meeting hygiene, adding agendas, reviewing invite lists and ensuring it makes sense to still have the meeting.
Communication expectations and tips.
With everything changing quickly in these unprecedented times, employers are going to face questions they do not have answers to. You should communicate early and often with your team. Be honest and open to maintain credibility. You may make the wrong choices and need to pivot, but it is still better to be as transparent as you can.
Send out a short daily email with business highlights, WFH tips and any COVID-19 updates.
Continue (and maybe increase) all hands meetings remotely - Zoom and Google Hangouts are great tools to utilize during this time. Leave time at the end of your all hands meetings for employees to ask questions, don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know, but let me find out” - and make sure you close the loop!
When communicating with your employees, remember to be empathetic while being realistic. Acknowledge uncertainty, but provide structure and leadership. Ex. The office will be closed at minimum until March 20th and we may have to be closed for longer than that.
Commit to when you will revisit issues, ex. We will revisit our mandatory work from home on March 20th.
Don't forget about your managers.
Managers are likely to be feeling stressed as the front line of the adjustment to a remote workforce. Make sure to check-in regularly to see how they are doing. One way to do this is to create a manager slack channel or daily stand up where they can share ideas and challenges.
This is an ongoing and developing situation and we know everything is moving quickly, so we advise everyone to stay informed, stay flexible and stay empathetic. You can find more resources and help regarding the creation of remote work policies and more here.
Written by Mallory Mazer