COVID-19: 9 Tips to Manage Your Remote Employees

COVID-19: 9 Tips to Manage Your Remote Employees

What was just weeks ago an option you might have been pondering is now your reality – a remote workforce. Maybe you wanted to do a gradual rollout starting with a one-day-a-week-trial schedule. Or even try it full-time with certain self-starter employees. But that’s out the window. Nearly everyone—including you—is likely in a bedroom, at a dining room table, or if you’re lucky, a fully outfitted home office. COVID-19 or not, you’ve got a business to run.

Here are 9 things you can do to help your employees during a crisis:

  1. Give every employee a “crisis hat” in addition to the job description they have. Or just reinforce their job description and why it is especially important in a time like this. People love to help. In fact, it has been said that you could gage a person’s sanity by their ability or willingness to help—in whatever capacity. Giving each employee a duty to carry out during a crisis is crucial to feeling part of a solution and empowering them to rise above it.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. It’s easy to feel isolated and out-of-touch so schedule regular meetings with your staff. Make them face-to-face as much as possible. There’s a huge psychological benefit for everyone in seeing who you’re talking to.
  3. Reiterate best business practices. While you’re at it, regularly remind people (even if it’s obvious) what are your best practices. That could be work procedures unique to your employees, or more general health and safety behaviors—washing your hands for instance.
  4. Be flexible and empathetic. Your staff is learning to adjust to the sudden change. Some may have children or elderly parents at home who need care, making the regular 9 to 5 workday impractical. Speak with them individually to find a schedule that works for everyone. We have developed time off during the day to recharge and come back refreshed.
  5. Lead by example, not orders. Be candid about what you’re experiencing and your plan to handle it. Employees adopt the culture and behaviors you create.
  6. Keep in mind you serve your employees. Speak to them frequently about how all of you can fulfill your mission. It will give them focus in a sea of distraction.
  7. Praise your people. And then praise them some more. It costs nothing to show your sincere appreciation for your employees’ efforts. It lifts spirits, redoubles efforts and reinforces loyalty.
  8. A little humor goes a long way. In times of crisis, using humor may seem tone-deaf or inappropriate. Actually, a little levity will go a long way to relieve anxiety. A simple “joke of the day” can remind everyone not to focus on just the negative.
  9. Don’t give up. Growing up in Texas, I was taught that no matter what—never give up. That principle can be applied in a variety of ways… but the end result it you ALWAYS intend to win. Teach your team to make it go right. They will be empowered to go the extra mile for all aspects of their lives… even your business.

I was recently quoted in RealLeaders magazine with tips to handle a remote workforce in a crisis—see if any of this helps you:

“As CEO of an international agency we piloted and pioneered a remote workforce 5 years ago, so many of the issues our clients and colleagues are presently experiencing, we are not. In times of crisis, a leader has to keep his/her team “in the present,” and that can be very hard to do without major structure and a strict production demand. I have developed a Crisis Org Board, outlining what “hat” each person will wear. Once everyone knows their “crisis role” we then determine what the major production will be for the business and how to go about it.  We don’t use the crisis to sit back and wait to be told what to do, we use it to proactively take action and keep our people industrious and helping others. We help the media tell real-time stories with data from our clients, so our purpose is to help get news out to millions of people. Giving our team a strong purpose keeps them in the moment.”

Crisis Is Our Wheelhouse. Working remotely is business as usual for us. We haven’t hit pause on anything. In fact, we’re going 24/7 right now, still getting out the news that will help people and our clients through this difficult time. We’ve got this. Do you?

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