Work-From-Home: A Leader’s Challenge
Working from home (WFH) is not an option for all professions. Nevertheless, it has affected many around us. Most of us know a family member, client, customer or a business in our community that had to shift their working conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working from home can be difficult and at times feel as if you are in a fog. If you find yourself in a foggy space of working from home, how have you dealt with it all? Moreover, are you ready to embrace it long-term? If you were one of the many who thought working from home is going to be a temporary phase, well, 2020 got the better of you! Welcome to the new normal.
Employees required to merge their work and personal lives face many challenges. They need to rearrange their living spaces while managing family responsibilities. Some might have to prove their work’s worth, while other's have to deal with the loneliness of separation from work colleagues. Such challenges coupled with anxiety from future uncertainty can lead to major health issues, in addition to risks from the COVID-19 virus itself.
As a leader, you have extra responsibilities in managing WFH. Below are some suggestions to help you better support the business, your team and yourself in this new normal.
Supporting the Business
Look for opportunities to simplify the work at hand. This would be a good time to get rid of processes, policies and hierarchies that do not add value and replace them with agile working standards. Ensure to involve every department-head in the simplification process. Seek the help of your IT department to provide necessary systems to support the transition.
Reevaluate and prioritize deliverables accordingly. Work with affected stakeholders to negotiate due dates, quantities and/or services.
Supporting the Team
Work with your teams to revise goals and expectations to reflect the new context. Adopt a change management methodology and develop a mindset of 'we are in this together'. Walk the talk and be the first to embrace remote work policies.
Look to reevaluate benefits and perks offered to ensure they are still relevant. If necessary, brainstorm valid replacements.
Ask employees what "tools" they need to complete their work under the new conditions. Make sure you listen to the quietest voice in the (virtual) room and hear everyone’s concerns. Then involve them in the solutions and assignment distributions.
Give employees time to let go of what use to be and give them space to adopt the new change. Consider implications on their personal lives and work with HR to find ways to help them juggle their work and personal responsibilities.
Finally, and most importantly, communicate often, openly and candidly. There is no such thing as over-communication in current times.
You cannot successfully support others if you don’t look after your own needs: physical, mental and emotional.
Reach out to family and friends who make you feel good. Take time for yourself and do the things that make you happy. Read a book, listen to your favorite songs, watch a movie or (weather permitting) go for a walk outside (socially distancing). Spending time alone to reflect can relax and energize you.
Take a moment to step back a little to see more. Then spring back and take the reins again. You’ve got this.