Helping Your Newly Remote Team Stay Productive Amid COVID-19

Effective leadership and understanding go a long way to keep your staff engaged through new routines.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is sending its shockwaves all over the world. Officially categorized by the WHO to be a major pandemic, the infection is accelerating through multiple cities and countries, and no one knows how it will play out.

Schools and universities across the country are closed indefinitely ushering in distance and digital learning strategies. In business, meetings that used to take place in the conference room are now happening on Zoom. 

For many companies, the system and infrastructure required for remote working are already in place. For others, this might be the first time a work-from-home situation has had to be considered.

As companies big and small are putting together remote working policies and employees are getting used to the new normal, here are some tips to keep your team’s productivity up while working from home.

Keep in regular online contact with team members

Ensure that your team is regularly communicating with one another. In the office, you have incidental interaction with your team, but while working remotely, your communication will need to be more intentional.  

In a perfect world, you’d meet with each member of your team one-on-one to set expectations and discuss priorities. You can use Zoom, Slack, Google Hangouts or Skype for video conferencing.

Social isolation can profoundly affect your team, so initiating and reinforcing excellent communication is critical. Consider scheduling Zoom coffee dates to eliminate social isolation and improve mental wellbeing.

Remind your team to begin their mornings as if they are going to the office

For those who have never worked remotely, this one goes against what’s great about working from home. When most people think about working from home, there are at least fleeting thoughts of sitting down to work in PJs and slippers.  

Believe it or not, how you’re dressed can significantly affect productivity when working remotely. Sweatpants and fuzzy socks make us want to take a nap, whereas business casual attire keeps us feeling productive (and ready for the next video conference).   

Encourage your team to continue their morning routine as if they are getting ready for the office. Aside from feeling productive, it also helps put your team in the right frame of mind to start their workday.

Ensure employees have a productive work setup

When your staff is working remotely, they should be working from a dedicated, quiet workspace and away from other household members who are also stuck at home. The couch may not be the best place for productivity, no matter how convincingly we rationalize it.

Stress the importance of a comfortable chair and clear surface area for working. Keep tools for the job, earbuds, and chargers in reach.

Prioritize physical health

When working remotely and especially when we’re stuck at home, it can be easy to ignore our physical health. Help your teams stay aware of their physical health by encouraging them to remain active. 

Physical activity can improve our overall mental health and can get our endorphins flowing too – much needed during this unsettling time.

Send group chat reminders throughout the day to get the whole team standing up and stretching periodically or send links to articles that give ideas or instructions for home office exercising.

Here are some other tips to encourage your employees to prioritize their health.

  • Eat small, balanced snacks and meals throughout the day instead of large meals
  • Drink at least 2L of water/fluid per day
  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity. Yoga and bodyweight exercises are great at home.

Maintaining productivity while working remotely can be a challenge, especially during trying times like these. As a leader, be understanding and aware of your team’s mental health as we all navigate the new normal.

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