My husband works for a major corporation that houses over 3,000 employees in their global headquarters here in our hometown. A week ago, their executive crisis team set to work getting plans and resources in place so they could support over half of those employees working from home. While it’s not possible for warehouse staff or manufacturing to work from home, design engineers can, so starting today, roughly 2,000 of them stayed home. As I write, my husband is managing five teams remotely from our dining room table. This prompted me to offer some suggestions on how to lead your team as they face a potentially prolonged work-from-home situation. Here are five things that can make or break a team that suddenly finds itself isolated and working from home.
Communication is crucial – If your team is accustomed to having you down the hall where they can pop in to ask you questions, the isolation from you and the rest of the group may be jarring for them. Don’t be afraid of over-communicating. Check-in with them every so often to ask, “How ya doing? Do you need anything from me?” The more they feel tapped into you, the more normalized they’ll feel in their new working situation.
Communicate in their preferred format – Some of your team will be most comfortable with email; others will prefer instant messaging, texting, chat boards or SLACK. Make sure they have the options they are most comfortable with and be available to them on those platforms. Ensure they have access to each other on those platforms as well. Continue to hold your regularly scheduled team meetings and one-on-ones via streaming platforms such as Skype, Zoom, etc. This also adds normalcy to their work from home. Work with your I.T. department to ensure they have the tech tools they need to do so.
Set expectations – Some may see working from home as free-ticket to work in their pajamas and slippers while munching on a bag of Cheetos with HGTV or the Velocity Channel playing in the background. While there is nothing specifically wrong with that, those who run truly successful home offices know that it requires discipline. You get up. You get dressed, and you go to work. The only difference is your commute is shorter. Working from home does not mean a day off of work, or logging in for an hour or two around Call of Duty rounds.
It’s essential to communicate your expectations of their focus and productivity ahead of time. Let them know they need to log their hours on the payroll system and what specific tasks and deadlines need to be met each day.
Be flexible – With school systems and daycare facilities closing en masse, many of your team members will have kids in the house, who are getting bored with confinement and going a little stir-crazy. It may be difficult for your team to maintain the same focus they would if they were at their desk in the office. Be willing to be flexible with this, perhaps adjusting working times to accommodate when the kids are otherwise occupied.
Be calm – This is a new situation for everyone, and uncertainty breeds anxiety. As the leader, it is your responsibility to be a calming voice amid the turmoil. Support them emotionally as well as in their work output. Make sure they know that we are all in this together, you support them, the company supports them, and this is a temporary situation.
All of this may sound like a lot of extra work for you. It is. That’s part of your responsibility as their leader. And if you put that extra work in, leading your team well as they work remotely, your team will not miss a beat while they work from home.
About Lauren Schieffer
Lauren Ann Schieffer grew up military, in an Air Force family, “hitting the road” to a new station every couple of years. This imbued her with incredible people skills, a profound in-dependence and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
Lauren’s professional path began behind a receptionist desk at a moving company. Thankful for the work but not satisfied with the growth potential, she built an independent business with the world’s leading cosmetic company where she rose to the top two percent of the company’s management force while recruiting, mentoring and inspiring countless women to create their own version of success.
Unfortunately, she has also walked some very dark and scary roads in her lifetime. She has waged battle with and recovered from eating disorders. In addition, Lauren has sur-vived not one, but two sexual assaults. Lauren’s life journey has brought her to the conclu-sion that what happens to you in your life is not as important as how you choose to respond to what happens to you in your life.
Now, as a recognized expert on respectful conflict management, and the driving force be-hind High Road communication, Lauren has inspired tens of thousands of people nation-ally and internationally to shake off mediocrity and aspire to excellence and personal influ-ence.
Lauren’s book, Road Signs on the High Road of Life has been listed by LifeStyles Maga-zine in their top ten Best-of for Corporate Gift Giving and is recommended by multiple treatment facilities across the country as a “must-read” for those in recovery.
Lauren leads by example because she simply refuses to place limits on herself. She shows others how to expand their comfort zones to achieve personal and professional fulfillment. She has a passion for guiding others – women, men, executives, managers, employees and entrepre-neurs alike – in their quest to pass through good and grasp great; to pass beyond survival and into triumph.
She also makes sure to have some fun along the way – because if you can’t have a little fun along the road, why travel it at all?