Keep your WFH staff engaged with your mission

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This is our second in a series of Lean Into Work From Home posts; enjoy!

It’s been 2 months, and we’re mostly worried about A) when can we start getting back to normal, and B) how the heck are we going to recover from this!  If your company is anything like mine, what got you to where you were before COVID was largely your excellent team.  And that is precisely what is going to get to where you need to go NOW!

But the tactics used to marshal your team to greatness before may work differently when many of them are physically separated from you and the office.  They are still the same people you hired, nurtured and need now more than ever.  But collaboration and communication just shifted a bit.  Here are some ideas for making sure your machine stays well oiled.

  • Schedule times to talk.  In the office, my MO was “management by walking around”.  I saw people regularly in their natural habitat, and we chatted pretty regularly.  WFH can easily become out of sight, out of mind.  Be intentional about staying in touch by scheduling twice a month Zoom chats to connect and discuss what’s up.
  • Give them freedom to make the situation work.  Be flexible with work hours & schedules.  If they’re not responding directly to customer calls, they can probably do their thing any time.  WFH team members can be even more productive than before, but typically that happens when you allow them to figure out how to juggle stuff that happens in their new workplace.
  • Have regular department and/or company wide meetings.  We all “hate” meetings, but the sense of community is more important now than ever.  Make sure everyone feels like they are on a team, and all rowing the boat together.  And give some thought and planning to how to make these meetings engaging and effective.
  • Recognize their struggle, and their achievement.  You as the boss are feeling tons of pressure to pivot and get back on the right track.  But your entire team is also a bit freaked out.  Let them know you empathize with their situation, and that you’re there for them.  And really focus on recognizing what they bring to the table.  That can range from “Atta girl!” shoutouts during the company video conference, to periodic care packages sent to their home (properly branded of course), to bonuses or physical awards acknowledging their contributions.

Remote engagement isn’t impossible, or even difficult, but it does require changing how you do things.  Just remember what made you good at team building, and find ways to direct those talents in this new normal.  You got this!

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