Huh? What do you mean? Isn’t a remote work setup already more humane by default?
Well, perhaps. However, these are different times. The covid-19 pandemic has upended our lives in more ways than one. For one, the enhanced quarantine still feels like house arrest even for those of us who have been (and probably prefer) working from home.
We all know that happy workers are productive workers, and that most everyone is feeling a little blue and detached right now. Furthermore, businesses and companies that are new to remote working are discovering that there is a learning curve to it, and that can be a little demoralizing in the current climate.
So, as part of our public service to our readers and clients, here are ways in which to imbue a little more empathy and kindness into it, if only to make the process a little easier for everyone involved:
Load up on patience.
Working from home is and will always be messier than working in an office. You might hear a child yelling for their mom or dad in the midst of a team call. Someone’s cat could suddenly jump on their keyboard. Or, your co-worker might accidentally bring her laptop with her on her pee break in the midst of a video meeting. (True story.)
Basically, expect a glimpse into the personal side of your colleagues or workers and be okay with it. See a kid waving at the webcam? Wave back. Hear a fart somewhere? Laugh it off.
Trust me, a soupcon of extra patience will go a long way at this time. Who knows? You might even find yourself enjoying the relaxed protocols.
Communicate. A lot.
Communication is a two-way street. This is all the more so in work from home set-ups where you don’t have the usual non-verbal or environmental cues around.
So, if you’re a client, update your staff constantly about any changes that could affect them. Be very clear about their tasks and what is expected of them to provide stability and structure. Encourage them to provide feedback as well, and to participate in policy making whenever appropriate.
On the other hand, contractors should also be transparent about any challenges they’re facing. If you anticipate any difficulties in the coming days (e.g., restricted Internet access, technical difficulties due to the lack of technicians on duty, etc), best advise your team or your client.
Of course, make room for informal communication too. Check in on how everyone’s doing from time to time, and don’t be afraid to engage in a little chit chat between tasks.
Make room for emerging leaders.
Work from home set-ups are already unconventional, so be prepared for a flatter hierarchy. This arrangement is a hotbed for self-starters, so develop and encourage a strong sense of initiative within your team whenever it emerges.
The covid-19 epidemic is undoubtedly a watershed moment in our history. This will change the way we work, shop, and live for decades to come, and the accompanying strategies will come from a variety of sources.
So, empower your people to think a little differently. Practice hearing their suggestions or feedback with an open mind, and marvel at the developments that come out of it.
While job opportunities might be sparse right now, you shouldn’t take the stellar people on your team for granted. So, let them know you’re thankful for them and that you appreciate what they bring to the table.
Remote working might feel more personal, but you can’t possibly know what someone might be going through, and sometimes, a kind word can make all the difference.
Lastly, do remember to be kinder to yourself as well. All these abrupt changes happening around us are hard on everyone, and you need to stay healthy to take care of your people.
So, eat on time, hydrate, and get up and stretch every now and then. A healthy mind and body remain your strongest defense on the days when things might seem hopeless, so hang in there.