By Sharon F. Buchalter Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist
The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has chief executives, employees, and interns working remotely, including some staff members now working in different time zones all around the world. Without being able to use hands on leading, this new shift of directing may cause uncertainty. This article will summarize how to continue to increase productivity, improve communication and improve time management in these times of uncertainty.
The Psychological cost of Coronavirus for Businesses
VUCA (volatile, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) a concept introduced in 1987 is an important term during these times. Workplace stressors caused by fears of job insecurity, shifts in the workplace, insufficient support at work, etc., can cause a decrease of productivity at work leading to a business loss. Business leaders need to incorporate emotional intelligence in their leading techniques to give a sense of assurance to their employees. For this reason, companies like Starbucks have “ [provided] all U.S.-based employees and their eligible family members with access to 20 therapy sessions starting April 6” ( Umoh, 2020).
Guide to Lead from Home
1). Invest in trainings and online tools
Working at home has become the new social norm. Investing in video conferencing tools, such as Webex or Zoom allows workers and leaders to have regular meetings to check the status of an assignment or even share their screens to troubleshoot any problems. All team members should attend these meetings at least once per week, to enhance productivity and communication. In addition, investing in file storage tools allows every team member to view and edit documents as needed. Also, Microsoft Office has provided a free downloadable guide on working from home that can be customized per businesses needs. By providing virtual training on how to use these new tools/resources, will smooth the transition to the virtual world.
2). Applying Emotional Intelligence
Many employees are now working from home and having to take care of their children at the same time. Some will be affected by COVID- 19 or experience the loss of a family member, which could cause additional stress to complete work. Business leaders need to be understanding and flexible upon these changes, and provide tools to their employees to help reduce hardship, stress and distractions. Some of these resources could include therapy, meditational exercises, HR support, etc.
3). Adapting leadership style for working remotely
There are several effective leadership styles that could be used on a day-to-day basis. However, some leadership styles such as authoritarian leadership, are not as effective for remote teams. If your leadership style is no longer practical remotely, it might be beneficial to modify the way you lead your team.
How can workflow run smoothly when working remotely?
The decline of face to face communication has become one of the biggest challenges during this transition. Emphasizing clear communication in the workplace is important because it decreases the possibility of misinterpretation and significant errors. By having an established form of communication such as, texting, emailing, or video conferencing will diminish ineffectiveness and increase performance. However, oral communication for complex situations might be more effective compared to written communication. This is because misunderstandings are more prominent in written communication as opposed to verbal.
Leaders need to make sure that they are adapting to the new medium, especially with remote work. Understanding that people have different capacities for connectivity is important. In other words, if you or your team experiences connectivity issues during virtual meetings having a backup form of communication to still deliver information is essential.
3) Time Management
It is essential that when you work remotely, especially from home that you manage your time efficiently. This includes keeping the same schedule for appointments, staff meetings, and tasks that you maintained when you were working at the office. Also take advantage of the fact that you will not be commuting to the office and use that time to complete personal and family tasks.
Being organized at your home office is essential. If possible, create an area in your home that can be set up as a home office with all the necessary accessories needed to keep yourself organized. This includes a desk, filing cabinet, and even a folding table that can be used when you need extra workspace.
In conclusion, as a leader your team will be taking their cues from you. How you conduct yourself is vital to how your team will perform. By following this guide, you should be able to create an organized and productive remote workplace environment!
About the Author:
Dr. Sharon Fried Buchalter is a Clinical Psychologist and Founder/CEO of the consumer products company Products on The Go LLC. Throughout her career, Dr. Sharon has developed and implemented a wide range of workshops ranging from family leadership, new parent survival skills, to life skills training for teens and college students. As well as, management training profiles of successful people, stress management, mindfulness and solutions for a healthy centered life.