Work-From-Home Efficiency Is Not A One-Size-Fits-All Solution

With lockdown or shelter-in-place rules still in effect due to COVID-19, a large number of employees are working within the confines of their homes. The shift to full-time remote work is an adjustment for everyone, but especially for people who either have to watch their young children at home; care for sick relatives; or live in shared spaces.

“One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is blindly following a prescriptive list of one-size-fits-all tips and solutions for remote work,” says Stan Vlasimsky, Vice President at consultancy Pariveda Solutions—a firm focused on digital transformation, helping clients leveraging technology to achieve business outcomes. “The main issue is that everyone has unique needs, which means their priorities are going to be different.”

These are extreme circumstances, and if employees are expected to do their best work, they need to stay mentally and physically healthy. In his role, Vlasimsky leads by example in order to encourage his team to take care of themselves. “I tell them when I need to go for a bike ride, walk my dog, or help my kids with something in the house. If they see me do it, they’re more willing to do those things for themselves, especially in a time when economic anxiety is putting pressure on people to perform.” he says.

For leaders, showing humanity can help ease fears and inspire employees to focus on what they can solve rather than what is beyond their control. That said, as Vlasimsky clarifies, it’s also important to follow-up with advice and action to maintain high levels of output.

Here’s Vlasimsky’s tips for how managers can support the needs of all their remote employees:

Put problem-solving first

Schedule one-on-one check-ins with each person on your team, and realize what their unique situation is. Take note of their challenges and brainstorm potential solutions together. Perhaps you can allow new parents to work outside of normal business hours, and have a daily chat to set clear expectations. Collaborate with your employees to create an action plan so the work can still be accomplished.

Moreover, when it comes to maintaining a sense of culture, think about how you can recreate the physical office culture in a virtual setting. You might not be able to grab drinks after 6 pm, but you can schedule a digital happy hour, and add it to your calendar as you would if you were in the office.

Evaluate your communication style

Think about how your communication style needs to adapt to the virtual reality. Do you need more one-on-one calls? How can you ensure goals are clearly communicated, measured, and achieved?

It’s so easy to check in with someone in an office setting than through a remote platform. Without the possibility of these office encounters, it’s important for leaders to carve time for more frequent status meetings with their teams. Furthermore, it’s also essential for managers to be in-tune with your employees’ feelings. “Videos don’t offer perfect clarity, but you can still get a read on body language,” says Vlasimsky. “In a time of economic uncertainty, employees will be more hesitant to say that they are overwhelmed or uncomfortable with a task. As a leader, it’s on you to speak candidly about expectations and goals, but also let your teams know it’s ok to admit when they need help, aren’t sure, or think something should be done differently.”

Lead with empathy

Lastly, try to put yourself in your employees’ shoes and learn how to empathize with them. Consider the unique conditions your employees are working with, offer them custom solutions, and communicate as often as possible. This will help humanize your virtual workplace and boost team morale.

ForbesShelcy V. Joseph Contributor

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