21 Apr Guidance for Leaders as They Support Their Teams Through a Time of Necessary Isolation, Constant Change, and Sudden Disruption
According to Farwell Advisors, “The question facing leadership today is no longer if you should consider remote work within your organization, but how and how quickly.”
Main Drivers for the Rapid Transition to a Remote Work Model
The main drivers for the rapid move to a remote work model are:
- Ensuring that organizations have business continuity
- Mitigating the health risks for employees, customers and the broader community during a global pandemic crisis
Organizations may also experience other benefits of the shift especially if the transition is handled well despite the reactionary need for change.
Guidance for Leaders as They Support Their Teams Through a Time of Necessary Isolation, Constant Change, and Sudden Disruption
Maintaining team continuity and work relationships while establishing a dispersed work model is paramount to making remote work, work. Team members are facing unprecedented changes not only in their work but in their daily lives.
Employing change management practices is vital during this transition and can help employees adopt the new normal as quickly as possible.
Checklist to help leaders ensure the shift to remote work is as seamless as possible.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
Organizations don’t need to spend a lot of time explaining why they have decided shift to remote work given frequent updates on the news. However, there are many other communication needs such as:
- Who is expected to work remotely. (Note: if a role is not eligible for remote work, outline the constraints and how will they be able to adhere to CDC recommendations if they still are expected to come to work.)
- Where employees can go if they have questions or issues
- When further updates will be available
Set clear expectations of remote team members.
Especially if team members have not been consistently working remotely, setting expectations up front will help provide clarity, reduce frustration and ease anxiety for the team.
Expectations for Leaders to Set for Their Remote Team Members:
- Document and update each team member’s availability during work hours
- Share where to post calendar updates
- Set expectations for response time
- Identify channels of communication
Engage with team members as often as possible. Also encourage them to engage with each other.
Leaders need to reach out to team members more frequently than they otherwise would when all are physically together. This increased team interaction helps curtail the feelings of isolation and detachment. Especially with the uncertainty of how long this new working environment will take place, regular check-ins are key.
Select and implement the tools your teams need to support and manage remote work. Provide training and support to adopt those tools.
Fortunately, the foundation, mechanisms, and tools necessary for efficient and effective distributed work models have been developed and implemented across many industries for decades.
Questions to ask before choosing which Management Tool/s are the right fit for your remote teams:
- Does your remote team need the same tool for individual or 1-off conversations?
- How do you create the same sense of transparency and responsiveness that exists inside the walls of your organization while everyone is working from home?
- What do you use to track and prioritize work?
- Is there a digital tool designed for managing?
- How do I best track outcomes in real-time so I can provide necessary feedback?
Establish revised processes for tracking work, if necessary.
Beyond the core components of managing a distributed work model lies the mechanisms necessary for controlling how the work will be tracked and completed. Processes and policies may need to be revised and developed in order to ensure outcomes can be met and measured.
Practice empathy and patience.
Given today’s environment, circumstance requires leaders to be more empathetic. Some team members may be dealing with unavoidable distractions at home beyond simply how they must do their work differently.
Ensure team members know that during these unusual circumstances, it is understandable that those distractions may occur and share any tips or tricks to mitigate them. For those with younger children at home, encourage employees to help each other (e.g. share free online learning sites with coworkers to keep their children occupied).
These are unprecedented times; though having the option to complete work remotely is one way to help ease employee anxiety and fear.
FarWell advisors are ready to help leaders swiftly respond to changing needs. FarWell advisors work alongside organizations to develop and implement remote work platforms and processes. From Change Leadership and Project Management to Process Development and Cultural Strategy, a right-sized team and approach can efficiently and effectively help organizations quickly transition to a remote workplace.
Learn how Dave Jones, Inc. responded to employees experiencing challenges connecting remote workers to each other and the resources they needed to sustain continued growth.