It has been over a year since the Irish Government enforced social distancing measures to control the spread of COVID-19.
Overnight, our lives had changed, we were forced to adapt, to create a new way of living to regain stability and cope with the demands of this novel situation fueled with uncertainty (Kelly et al., 2014).
This included a work from home arrangement where employers had to manage their teams remotely through telecommunications.
Work from home and Productivity
Fear not, work from home has been associated with increases in productivity (Bloom et al., 2015) and the more strategic a company is with its employees, the stronger the performance (Cucchiella et al., 2014). Carnes et al. (2016) argue that the selection of effective leaders is central to organizational success, particularly during difficult periods.
This is vital during COVID-19, to help individuals adjust to their new work-life schedule (Carmichael, 2020).
Trust, Flexibility and Communication
For Employers and managers, it is important to interpret what is meaningful to your team members, and how this influences the time and mental resources available through-out the changing levels of lockdown (Harth & Mitte, 2020). Understanding your team’s workload and applying a flexible approach will go a long way in maintaining their productivity and wellbeing.
Creating an environment of trust with consistent communication and support will facilitate the integration of a culture of engagement that reaches all levels of the organization (Alimo-Metclafe & Bradley, 2008).
Empower Your Team – We can still do this from a distance!
In line with the Demand-Control-Support Model (Ota et al., 2009), Employers that promote autonomy, give their employees an opportunity to be creative, and recognize and reward their efforts will build a culture where employees feel motivated and a sense of responsibility (Cucchiella et al., 2014).
Outlining specific projects and missions for each employee will ensure optimal engagement levels.
Ensure Vision and Role Clarity
With a remote work arrangement, employers need to ensure everyone within the team understands their position and role, in relation to other team members, for team effectiveness, cohesion and information sharing (Matthews & McLees, 2015).
A vision can help the staff understand the rationale behind decisions and the direction Managers are taking the business to achieve success. Well-conducted, frequent meetings are vital to ensure teams are communicating and working effectively (West, 2012) and improve group problem-solving and interpersonal congruence (Amabile & Pillemer, 2012).
Metrics and vision boards for transparency of financial positions, performance and productivity are also valuable tools.
Understand Where You Are and Where You Want to Go
Effective managers can influence their employees’ mental health with their involvement and communication processes (Kirsh et al., 2018). Trust can be evident in a leader, when there is a willingness to be vulnerable, and have faith in their staff’s capability (DeOrtentiis et al., 2013).
After a year of remote work arrangements, it is a golden opportunity for employers to understand the challenges and benefits their employees have faced. This can be done through anonymous online psychometric surveys to assess job satisfaction.
The context driven data gathered from these surveys will help employers move forward and maintain engagement effectively in the inevitable event of long-term hybrid and remote work environments.
And above all, supporting others starts with supporting yourself – Self-care needs to be your priority.