If you're a business leader whose team has gone virtual, they're going to look to you to set the tone, help them feel safe and make sure they don't just sit at home in front of their computers all day. It's vital for their mental health. So, what can you do?
1. Regular contact
Be where they are, and email's not it. Email's for work, not keeping in touch. Chat is where it's at and keeps communication more chatty and informal. Make sure you keep the conversation light.
2. Show your face!
Join a video call with at least some of the team most days. They need to see you, not just hear from you. Humans crave face-to-face communication - and even more so at the moment.
3. Be crystal clear about your expectations
Tell them to turn off at the end of the day and wish them well on Fridays. Be clear that the expectation is not that they do nothing but work. They need to walk, chat on the phone or Facetime, do other things, otherwise their productivity will go through the floor. And finally, don't assume they know what you expect of them. They probably don't!
When you’re a person with a growth mindset, who can handle change or even perhaps who thrives on change, it can be hard to understand why some in your team may be struggling to be upbeat or productive at the moment. Try to think about how frightening change and uncertainty genuinely is for some people. It’s not their fault and jollying them along just won’t work. What might work is listening quietly to their concerns, letting them talk till they are finished and trying to understand what they are really saying. Dismissing their concerns won’t work either. Instead ask them what they need from you right now to be able to feel better (and therefore to be able to work better). It comes back to what we all want really, which is to be listened to and understood.
This is a time where true emotional intelligence is really important in leaders. Emotional intelligence is what will get leaders through this and ensure that their teams stick with them after it’s over. Read more about emotionally-intelligent leadership here.