Work from home

By Hannah Prince, business psychologist at Insights Learning & Development

The gravity of the Coronavirus pandemic is truly hitting home and it seems clear that the crisis will have a significant, sustained impact on our lives, families and communities.

It is anything but business as usual, with workplaces deserted in the UK and all over the world. Many thousands of us have confined ourselves to our homes in an attempt to protect colleagues and loved ones

But social distancing doesn’t mean that managers, business owners and entrepreneurs cannot or should not stay connected. In such difficult times, we need to work harder than ever to prevent isolation, keep our enterprises moving, and protect the health and wellbeing of our teams.

Insights’ research has shown that members of dispersed teams need three things in order to continue to give their best: to feel trusted, to feel as though they belong, and to have effective support from their boss. Here are our tips to get the best from your employees over the coming weeks and months.

Take stock

Managers and entrepreneurs will be asking themselves how they can help their colleagues work at home successfully, to ensure that their business requirements continue to be met. If team members feel isolated and cut-off then they won’t be able to deliver.

So check in regularly and have open conversations with each member of your team. Work together to find an approach which works for you both and be prepared to be as flexible as you can. Show them that you care and that you trust them to deliver.

A little empathy goes a long way

These are testing times for us all. Perhaps your colleague has underlying health concerns, childcare considerations, or loved ones who might be vulnerable. Develop your empathy – and understand and respond to their circumstances. Your approach will be most effective if it is tailored to the personal circumstances of each individual.

Remote working can lead to employees feeling the need to justify themselves or prove their worth by slipping into an unhealthy pattern of long hours. Prevent this by reassuring your team. Help to keep them healthy and protect their wellbeing and they will continue to deliver for you.

Be practical

What do your colleagues need to do the job? How much work are they really going to get done on an old, slow-running laptop perched on their knee? Equipping them with the right technology and equipment is only going to be beneficial to their productivity and your business.

Encourage planning

Suggest each member of the team takes a few minutes of each day to consider what they will do, how they will approach tasks, and where they can be flexible to support business needs. Be clear about your priorities and objectives. If your colleagues understand what you are looking for then they will be better equipped to deliver.

Give perspective

Understand that this experience will be different and may be unsettling for your teams, but also try to be positive and stress that it will not be permanent. If you and your colleagues can respond to the challenges collectively there are likely to be opportunities to enhance the services you provide.

How we respond

The scale of this crisis has been underlined by the unprecedented support for businesses and the economy outlined by the UK Government and by other governments globally. This gives business owners some security in challenging times and will allow some latitude to consider how they might best respond.

Entrepreneurs often think of themselves as the great disruptors. The last two decades are full of examples of disruptive approaches and technologies which have changed the way we all live.

Today’s disruption might be being caused by COVID-19, but the most talented leaders will still pivot to address the changing needs of their customers. If these leaders can harness the talents of their teams – whether they are working from the kitchen table, couch or bedroom – then, together, they will be able to confront this defining moment and turn its challenges into opportunities.