This article was written by Sophie Behrend, Status Labs Account Coordinator

The Coronavirus is like a bad roller coaster ride. It’s dangerous, scary, risky, and no one knows how it’s going to end. It’s unclear when the end is near or what life will even look like when we get there.

While companies are scrambling and struggling to communicate with their employees and clients, it’s critical that leaders instill trust, honesty and set clear guidelines and expectations. 

What has become a national pandemic has also provided some companies with the unique (and less than ideal) opportunity to evaluate their work from home strategies. For companies that didn’t previously have the infrastructure in place to offer working remotely, now is the chance for them to adopt new strategies. It’s critical that these companies implement new ways to operate so that they can maintain business flow and continue to support their company. 

Here are some tips to empower and care for your remote workforce during this critical time of adjustment: 

Be honest, open, and instill trust  

Whether it be over email or on a conference call, having an open line of communication with your team is crucial to your company’s survival. With tensions high and people dealing with a multitude of concerns both professionally and personally, every communication should be meaningful and honest. Even if being honest may not be the most positive news, when people feel like they are in the know, they are less likely to panic and overthink.

If employees are left in the dark, they gain a sense that their leadership is hiding something. To avoid this, schedule weekly check-ins, set agendas, and leave time to answer any lingering questions. When it comes down to it, people want to be heard and know that their company’s executives are there to listen. 

Adjust expectations as needed but set guidelines/goals

Working from home (WFH) introduces a new set of challenges than a typical office setting. From not having access to company computers, being home with your children or significant other, finding the proper work space, and having virtual meetings, WFH is even more distracting and oftentimes discouraging. 

Expectations must and should be adjusted in order to meet employees at home capabilities. Remind your team to stay on task and adjust their goals, but to incorporate new methods and strategies to their daily tasks. 

Some employees may view WFH as a chance to slack off or distance themselves from their work priorities. With all that’s going on in the world, it’s understandable if some individuals find it hard to focus on work. However, as a company leader, it’s imperative that employees are reminded that they should stay focused and diligent. 

To help, encourage employees to make to-do lists to hold them accountable or propose they take advantage of the 1-3-5 rule to increase productivity. By following this rule, the things one chooses to accomplish will get a check mark. This will help people narrow down their long to-do lists and help them to prioritize what they can and cannot get done in that day. 

Check in frequently regarding your team’s mental and emotional state 

The conversation surrounding mental health has never been as poignant as it is now. The media has reminded us to check in with our family and friends, but it’s the responsibility of company leaders and team managers to ask their employees these basic but necessary questions: 

“How are you feeling today?”

“Do you have any questions or concerns?”

“Is there anything you think we should be doing differently?”

“Do you have a WFH routine?”

“Do you have the tools you need to function successfully in your job while working from home?” 

“What activities have you been doing during downtime?”

While this may feel unusual or unnatural for some, many employees, especially those who are struggling with feeling isolated, find it comforting to know that their boss is understanding. Now, even more so than before, is the time to be empathetic towards one another. 

Many employees are feeling compromised both physically and mentally. While they may be getting work done at home or appearing online, the unstructured days could be leaving them feeling lonely and less motivated. In this case, take the time to shift your work-focused conversations and leave time to chat about new recipes you’ve tried out or send a link to the latest puzzle you completed with your kids. Sure, it may not be typical to discuss this kind of stuff with your co-workers, but now is the time to lean on each other. 

Keep it light 

Whether it be sending cute puppy videos, funny articles or sharing pictures of your WFH lunches in the company group chat, keeping things light and positive is a great way to keep company morale up. In addition, keep recognizing the achievements of your employees by giving them company wide shout-outs. While the world around us is weighing heavily on all of us, reminding one another that we are all in this together is surely comforting. 

As a company, we are actively adjusting our modes of communication and learning as we go. While the world around us is ever evolving, we will continue to prioritize our clients and work with them as they navigate these uncertain times.