Managing teams remotely in lockdown 3.0Natalie Lewis
Are you fearful of your staff working from home and taking the p*ss?
I’ve had several chats since the lockdown was announced with leaders and managers who are worried that their team members have lost motivation and won’t perform as required during this next period of lockdown.
I totally understand your fears as we did see a drop in performance and productivity in some businesses during the first and to some extent, the second lockdown. However, in other businesses, we saw a significant increase (and increased profits to boot!).
I’ve looked at how both types of company dealt with remote working and I’d like to share with you the lessons I’ve taken from those with high productivity and performance.
What are the lessons we’ve learnt from high performing companies in lockdown?
Treat each person as an individual – high performing companies treat each person as an individual. Where some people have struggled, the company provided additional help, support and flexibility. They check in regularly with everyone, even the super resilient and independent members of the team and made sure that people were on track and had clarity in what was expected from them.
Increase communication – high performing companies increased communication threefold. With morning flash meetings and afternoon wrap up chats. This kept everyone working on the same path and on track.
Embrace technology – these companies embraced technology with the likes of Teams, Slack and Trello to keep projects on track and people communicating effectively. There are plenty of good platforms out there for you to use – if you’re not already using apps and these platforms, get them now!
Values-driven – high performing companies were values-driven with leadership and management bringing these values to life, demonstrating them over and over again and communicating them on a regular basis. Along with company values, they also reiterated the company behaviours and expectations for their staff. Again, this focused everyone on the same end goal. Often seen in these high performance companies is the rewarding of company values and behaviours as well.
A focus on fun and flexibility – these are tough times and even the most resilient person can have down days. My high performing companies recognised that and approached people with compassion and picked them up to allow them to carry on. Providing a fun outlet for people to let down their hair for half an hour or more has been a great motivator. Being flexible and understanding that working parents are juggling kids, homeschooling, as well as work, is really important. Those companies that allowed more flexibility within a given framework of standards and expectations found their staff to be far more productive. Allowing people an hour off work to go have their exercise was surprisingly effective.
What can I do to increase the performance of my team?
- Check-in with your staff today – this lockdown may well kick off a load of stress and anxiety, especially for those with kids so reassure them as best as you can
- Make sure they’re fully set up at home and they have full access to everything they need to carry out their role (we should be used to this!)
- Startup your online socials, quizzes etc and try and lighten the mood
- Treat everyone as an individual and if you have any issues or questions you can’t answer then give me a call.
How can I motivate and align the company as a whole?
- Re communicate your company vision and the goals you are collectively working towards
- Reiterate your company values and why they matter
- Re-state your company behaviours
- Go through the expectations you have for your team over the next 3 months e.g.
- Take responsibility for yourself and others
- Be accountable for your work
- No games during work hours
- Take coffee breaks with others in your team (2 x daily 10-15 mins)
- Join in quizzes
- Insert any other expectations you may have for your team …!
How can I increase communication with my company during a lockdown?
I’d recommend that you set up team video calls and ask people to be present on your chosen platform during core hours – this gives people the feeling that they are in the workplace. Whilst it may feel awkward to begin with, it does become normal and you’ll find it very useful for effective communication. You’ll find this easier if your team members are working off split screens at home but it’s not a deal-breaker.
Bring in an element of more active management if you need to, especially with newer team members, you may need to be more pro-active in helping and coaching them over the coming weeks. You may wish to read my blog on ‘how to onboard remotely‘.
What if I need some staff in the office?
If you do need a skeleton staff in the workplace then update your Covid-secure risk assessments and reiterate to any people who come into the workplace, how to keep safe by washing their hands regularly, wearing masks when they leave their desk and are in communal areas (yes this is new advice!) and maintaining at least 2 metres from people.
I have plenty of other learnings and insights into helping teams become more productive remotely. If you’d like to have a chat then get in touch.