Dealing With Coronavirus Issues
The COVID-19 outbreak is affecting organizations everywhere, disrupting work schedules and putting workers on edge.
This crisis presents new challenges for managers who must make changes to accommodate the situation with little time for planning,
while still maintaining productivity.
If you have questions about the coronavirus and how to protect people in your organization, here is a link to the CDC's
Guidelines for Business and Employers.
Managing Remote Workers
Many companies are now directing employees to work from home during the COVID-19 outbreak. In other companies, employees are asking
permission to work from home. In both cases, it presents a number managerial challenges. How do you keep people in the loop?
How do you keep them motivated and engaged? And how do you maintain morale and teamwork in a virtual team?
Obviously, remote work and virtual teams are not new. But in the current situation, you might be dealing with it for the first time.
If so, here are a few points to consider. And if you already have experience managing remote workers, these points still bear repeating.
Keep People Informed
Remote workers can feel isolated and out of touch, especially when they are disconnected from the normal flow of information.
You can help put people at ease and make them feel more connected by making sure you keep them informed as circumstances change.
Frequent communication by email, phone, conference calls, and instant messaging can all be used effectively to keep everyone in
the loop. The more information you provide, the better. People appreciate even small details because it helps give them a clearer
picture of the situation.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to working at home is the loss of personal interaction. At work people communicate over lunch,
in the hallway, the elevator, the kitchen, the restroom, and in meetings. Remote workers can experience feelings of loneliness,
which can lead to anxiety about what they are missing. The same technologies mentioned above can be used not only to keep
remote workers informed, but also to draw them in, helping them feel connected to others on the team.
Set Clear and Measurable Work Goals
Remote workers don't have the luxury of popping into your office to ask questions. To avoid misunderstandings and to make sure
that you and the remote worker are on the same page, provide specific work assignments with a clear set of deliverables.
Explain Why You Need It
Managers often worry about whether employees are fully engaged and committed when working from home. It's a legitimate concern
because working at home comes with plenty of distractions. Here is a simple and very effective technique for building commitment
to an assignment: explain why the assignment is important. For example, "I need this information to include in my report to the director,
which is due on Friday".
Give the employee a date or time when the assignment is due. This helps keep people focused and on track, regardless of where
they are working from.
Use Online Tools for Communication and Tracking
If your employees are working from multiple locations, it can be a challenge keeping everyone on the same page. Fortunately,
there are many excellent team collaboration tools online. These tools keep every member of the team up to date on status of
projects, who is working on what, and for sharing work products electronically. Examples include: Microsoft 365, Google Hangouts,
Slack.com and Asana.com. Many of these tools also allow you to set up a virtual management process for tracking progress on work
items each individual is working on.