Due to COVID-19, working remotely has become an unexpected reality for people all over the world. Though the pandemic will pass, the growing remote work trend has the potential to become a permanent fixture for many.
Whether you’ve always worked from home or are just now making the transition, this new normal presents unique challenges for all of us — from communication to transparency. Gymnasium’s latest webinar, featuring Richard Banfield of InVision and Darren Buckner of Workfrom, outlines four strategies that you and your team can use to make the most out of working remotely.
1. Build Trust
With everyone working from different locations, it can be difficult to keep tabs on your teammates. In the face of this disconnect, supervisors may find themselves micromanaging and employees can end up overworking to prove their productivity. Taking the time to cultivate and sustain trust is a key way to avoid friction and create a healthy dynamic in a remote team.
One way to do this is through simple conversation — whether it takes place in a virtual happy hour or a regular video chat. After all, the better you know someone, the more easily you’ll find yourself trusting them.
Darren suggests connecting with your colleagues once a month and facilitating a discussion where everyone has a chance to discuss one of their passions. “You will feel that you got to see something that will be an important lens to look through everything that you do with each person,” he said. “I think it’s a wonderful way to get to know people on your team, but also to build trust from afar.”
2. Communicate Clearly
Without face-to-face interaction, it’s easy to fall out of sync with your team. It’s even easier to miscommunicate when chatting with them online. The best way to overcome both of these hurdles? Communicate explicitly and often.
“Do the extra communication that you might not have otherwise thought to do,” said Banfield. “If there is anything in your communication that could be open-ended, get ahead of that.”
In addition to avoiding misunderstandings that could arise from ambiguity, it’s helpful to try to maintain the same level of communication with your colleagues that you’d have in person. Think about what you’d say or show them if you had the visual cue of their cubicle alongside yours. Sharing it via Slack doesn’t make it any less meaningful, and it will encourage others to do the same.
3. Choose Empathy
It’s no secret that this period has been challenging for most, and the need for empathy and understanding in the workplace is especially critical. Beyond boosting productivity, retention, and morale, showing compassion to your colleagues is simply the right thing to do.
“We’re all going to be feeling worried for ourselves, for our family members, for our friends, and so right now it’s very important for us all to be empathetic,” Buckner said. “Have some grace and understand that this is going to be tough for a while.”
In times of crisis, it can be difficult to default to empathy. When stakes are high and stress is rampant, we revert to relying on gut instincts rather than making deliberate decisions. Though easier said than done, consciously choosing to be empathetic when faced with frustrating situations will strengthen your team and have a long-lasting impact.
4. Create Balance
Without a physical separation between one’s job and home, the concept of work-life balance has become more elusive than ever. It takes time and effort, but developing strong boundaries is the key to finding equilibrium in this chaos.
“I do not work where I play and eat,” said Banfield. “And I highly recommend people don’t do that. Find a place to work where working happens.”
It can be tempting to take a call while curled up on the couch, but it’s not conducive to either your professional productivity or personal sense of well-being to avoid your dedicated work area. If your space is limited, try taking your calls on a walk around the block for a change of scenery.