As we come to the end of what has been the strangest year many of us have ever lived through, many remote workers may now be facing feelings of isolation, demoralization, and uncertainty over what is to come.
For many of us that were used to working in an office environment, working from home may have been a novel proposition at first, but the longer this goes on, that novelty can certainly wear thin.
As a manager that may not have been used to managing your team remotely, you might be noticing that your team needs to be handled in different ways as the pandemic continues.
In this blog, we’ll cover four of our most tips for becoming a more emotionally intelligent remote manager.
#1: Communication & Empathy
As a manager, you’re probably the most important person in the life of your team throughout the working day. However, as the pandemic continues to pose further challenges, you may find that you’re no longer the center of attention. Supporting family and friends, home-schooling children, and a million and one other issues might be preoccupying your team at the moment.
To ensure you’re abreast of what is going on behind the scenes, continue to improve your communication by implementing different communication methods for each team member.
For example, perhaps some prefer WhatsApp or instant messaging, whereas some may get along better with email. Maybe for some, a daily phone call or conference call may be necessary – this may become more prevalent as time goes on since some may find reassurance in your tone and body language, which lacks other forms of communication technology.
Continue to monitor your team’s needs over the coming days and weeks, as you may need to be more flexible as new government guidelines and advice come into play.
We may not like it, but the fact of the matter is: there are more important things than strict work deadlines at the moment.
The longer the team has been working at home, you might have noticed that some produce work as usual. However, in contrast, others may be producing in bursts at unusual times, such as weekends or evenings, after the kids have gone to bed or their home situation has changed.
It’s essential that you allow this to take shape and adjust deadlines accordingly, to ensure your team are working to their potential in the best way they can.
This may be difficult to keep up with at first, but as a leader, it’s really up to you to pivot to what your team needs to work effectively as this pandemic evolves.
#3: Encourage Gossip
The idea of “gossip” gets a bad rap these days, but it’s actually fantastic for human connection. At the start of a call, the working day, or whenever your first interaction with the team is, take some time to talk about what’s going on with everyone.
By doing this, the team knows that you care, and it’s a good barometer of any issues that might crop up later on down the line.
Be aware, though; these conversations may uncover issues with a team member who is obviously struggling. This will become more prevalent the longer this continues, particularly in light of the latest statistics, which show that one in five (19.5%) of us have suffered from some kind of stress-related depression due to COVID in 2020.
In this case, there are a few different things you can do. If the issues is an urgent one, you may decide to abandon the call (be sure to do this tactfully if there are others on the call) and spend some time talking and helping the person with whatever they’re struggling with.
Alternatively, if the issue isn’t quite as urgent, then take some time to follow up after the call. Once a problem becomes evident, then it’s absolutely your responsibility to try everything you can to offer your support.
#4: Forgive Mistakes
If you’re new to running a remote team in 2020, it’s a given that you’ll make mistakes; we all do. Remember that you are under the same stresses and strains as the team around you, and you have the added responsibility of guiding and nurturing them too.
We’re all living in exceptional times, so there really is no blueprint on how to handle what we’re going through. Sure, we may be able to adapt as we learn more about what we’re dealing with, but it’s important to remember that you and your team are only human, and you’re all in it together.
As we continue to work remotely, the lines between work and family life can sometimes become blurred, which is why it’s so important for you and your team to find space for yourselves. That’s not to say that you should absolve yourself of all responsibility for times when lines have been crossed, and neither is it an excuse to act inappropriately. But once you’ve owned up to what’s gone wrong and you know why, let it pass.
Holding grudges against yourself and the team is only likely to place an extra burden on a situation that is already incredibly tough as it is.
Thinking About the Future
We’ve been living with this pandemic for the best part of a year now, and no one knows just how much longer we’ll be working this way.
How do you plan to adapt once we start to find normality again? Will some of your teamwork remotely? Will you be working half in the office and half remotely? These are just some of the questions you need to answer.
Remember, increased flexibility, as we’ve mentioned, will become necessary as we move into 2021 for businesses to not only survive but thrive.
As a leader at the helm of the operation, you need to think carefully about what comes next and how you will take on board what you’ve learned this year.