By Maggie Old, Director of HR and Talent Care at Kelly.

We are living and working in unprecedented times and many employees have found themselves working from home every day for the foreseeable future. Whilst a lot of employees already enjoy some degree of flexible working, for others it might be the first time they have had to manage their work and time from home. Remote working, because of coronavirus, will undoubtedly present firms and their employees with a number of challenges. Maggie Old is Director of HR and Talent Care at recruitment firm Kelly and she has some advice for managers and business leaders about how to manage and support staff at a distance.

  1. Communication, communication, communication
More than ever leaders need to be communicative, open, human and available to their staff. Anxieties are running high, so it is critical that a manager finds way to steer their teams in a calming but inspiring way. Change has been thrust upon everyone and staff need to know that they are supported and can access all the help and direction they need. Send tailored emails regularly to your staff if you can and let them know you are available to them. As well as group video calls and meetings enable staff to book one to one video calls with you.
  1. Lead by example
Working from home can sometimes feel like there are no boundaries between work and home. As a boss it is important that you lead by example and maybe reassess your communication processes – review when you send your first and last emails during the day and maybe try to stick between sending them during working hours if you can. Be sensitive to the extra pressures staff are facing right now. Working from home presents challenges, more so now than ever before as families are facing lockdown together. Be understanding and reassuring.
  1. Identify high risk employees
Some staff may need extra support as the same remote management techniques will not suit everyone. Disruption impacts people differently, emotionally and operationally. Some people enjoy the buzz and banter of an office environment so may be struggling in lockdown. Others who fear change may find that getting to grips with new technology and new routines is frustrating so may be in need of extra support. Even your resilient and agile staff may be hiding some concerns for fear of showing fragility. Now may be the time to offer additional support training. CoachPro is offering free access to their coaching system until the end of June, providing comprehensive career assessment to help identify areas where training could help and offers ways to achieve greater work fulfilment and reach career goals.
  1. Be sociable
Chilling out with your colleagues at the end of the week in person is no longer feasible for the time being but reach out to your staff and set up online social events that they can join in with should they want to. Organise an online game or quiz or enjoy a virtual drink together at the end of the week or host a birthday party online for a staff member. Keeping morale high is important right now.
  1. Plan with your staff
This crisis will pass, and normality will return to the workplace in time so involve your staff in planning for the future. Ask them for their input and tell them what your plans are for the business. That way, they will feel reassured that their jobs are safe and that they have a future to look forward to.

Workplaces rely on connections and key to building strong internal communication and relationships is in helping employees to do their work well. Without a physical workplace to go to never has it been more important to create a virtual workplace to help staff feel engaged and virtually satisfied.