May 8, 2020
Over the last eight weeks, we have all had to adjust to a “new normal” as the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic. With states mandating telecommuting and the closing of non-essential businesses, our work day changed virtually overnight. Truth is, it is a difficult balancing act that can, at times, make us feel alone and longing for our “old normal.”
Our employees are adjusting to a new normal as well. They are looking for leadership during this crisis. Are we providing them with everything they need to answer their questions, ease their fears, and give them the confidence they need to make it through these challenging times?
This is why staying connected to our colleagues and employees has become more important now than ever before.
For Our Employees
Now is the time to over communicate. Maintain near constant communication with employees so they know you are in this together.
- Apps: Apps are a fantastic way to send short messages to all employees. A quick note or inspirational quote a couple of times per week will go far in maintaining employee morale and engagement. Offer them tips for maintaining both mental and physical health.
- Company website/social media: Social media posts reach the masses and can be used as an additional tool to ensure every employee and the community understand the measures the company is taking in dealing with the crisis.
- Letters to the home: Nothing can brighten a person’s day quite like receiving a handwritten note from their manager.
- Phone calls: Personally call your employees. Ask them how they are feeling, how their family is, and if there is anything you can do for them.
- Webinars: Put a webinar together to explain the company position and any changes that will affect them, health and safety information, how to file for unemployment, etc.
Above all else, show employees concern and that we truly care about their well-being.
For Employees Working Remotely
While those of us who are able to work from home are blessed, our new reality is not without its unique challenges. We have traded our quiet office space for noisy temporary offices in the dining room, phone calls and text messages instead of face-to-face conversations, and working with small children and/or pets on our laps. Following are some ideas to keep connected with our colleagues.
- Daily email check-ins: A simple email saying “Hello, this is what I am working on today. I am here if anyone needs assistance,” can go a long way. Some of your coworkers may be struggling that particular day with the challenges of working remotely and may welcome the assistance.
- Video meetings: Fortunately, we have an abundance of technology at our fingertips. Schedule a video meeting so you can see the friendly faces of your work family.
- Sanity checks: Working from home is not always easy. Some employees do not have a dedicated office space in their home. They are attempting to remain focused while caring for children. This can prove to be difficult even at the best of times. Weekly ‘sanity checks’ are a great way to share what is working and what is not, tips for how others are making it work, and to offer your coworkers words of encouragement. Sometimes it is simply nice to see your colleagues’ familiar faces while practicing social distancing.
- Maintain a schedule: Maintaining a schedule will create a sense of normalcy. If you have weekly staff meetings, continue to have them via video meetings. At Foundations, we continue to have our meetings – virtually – on the same day and at the same time. Maintain the regular office hours. Start work at the time you normally arrive at the office and end your day at your normal time.
- Be available: Our colleagues can no longer pop over to our desks for a quick conversation about a project we are partnering on. Working from home requires cooking meals for children, assisting with school work, and even taking the animals out for walks. To make up for this reduced accessibility:
- Take a cell phone with you when you leave your computer so you can be reached during normal office hours should the need arise.
- Set an out of office message on your email detailing who to contact in your absence and when you will return.
- Maintain your professionalism: Respond promptly to emails, return phone calls, meet your goals and objectives, and arrive on time and appropriately dressed for your virtual meetings. Remember that you still are an employee of your company and all the rules apply.
- Team building activity: Start your mornings off with a team activity that everyone can do together virtually. Try yoga or some other way to relieve stress and maintain a healthy mind while staying connected with each other.
- Virtual coffee breaks: Breaks are needed more than ever during this time. Instead of having your coffee alone, schedule a virtual coffee break with your team. Keep the conversation light and not focused on work.
Here in Kentucky we say, “We will get through this. We will get through this together.” I just know that we will come out on the other side of this pandemic stronger than before.
Supporting one another is more important than ever and Foundations is here to help you make this time less stressful. Contact us if you need guidance navigating this new normal – we can help you put a strategy in place for staying connected to your employees even while you are physically separated.
— Whitney Webb, Consultant