“Uncertain times” are probably two words you never need to hear again. Yet here we are, during our seventh week of working remotely and the expectations of when we’ll be getting back to the office are still, well, uncertain. So, I’d like to flip the script and talk about the one aspect of your business you can always count on during challenging times: the power of your people.
Here are a few things we’re doing at FARM to keep our staff inspired and connected in quarantine.
Don’t go dark
Even if you feel you may be overcommunicating, everyone appreciates a friendly voice from inside your camp. Send regular updates to provide assurance that managers are continuing to make sure everyone feels comfortable in their current work environments, and that you’re monitoring the situation closely to determine the next steps toward normalcy. Encourage daily team chats or video calls to convey a sense of warmth and unity that emails simply can’t achieve. Last, we encourage our staff to submit questions and agenda topics to be covered on bi-weekly company update calls. This lets our team know they still have a voice and helps us to address their most pressing concerns even when face-to-face interactions have been put on hold
Just as the work must continue, so should the social aspects of your organization. At the start of the quarantine, many of our people hesitated to socialize over calls and video conferences, feeling they always had to be “on.” But that kind of rigid environment won’t boost morale or productivity. Encourage teams to take time to just catch up and get together via video to socialize, even if some members just participate passively. We also have a little fun by encouraging people to send puzzles, brainteasers, and pictures over our company communication platform. Rather than being disruptive, this lighter and more personal content provides a welcome break from the steady stream of work-related communications.
Keep it real
None of us are getting through this without our share of days when the isolation hits harder than usual. And that’s ok. Openly acknowledge that we all have good days and bad ones; we’re upbeat one moment, anxious the next. It’s really no different than life on the outside, but somehow the moods feel more extreme when we’re apart. At FARM, we check in on people regularly and share some of our struggles to let others know they’re not alone. The feedback from our staff is that this honestly lets them cope with their own anxiety better. Still, that doesn’t mean we linger in those shadowy corners. And neither should you. Talk about the future, how you’re all adapting—sometimes thriving—during a challenging situation and reiterate that we will get through it together.
When it comes to managing your staff through this time, perhaps the best thing you can do is trust them. Remember why you brought them aboard in the first place. It was their strength, their talent, their wisdom, their humor, and their resilience. And even now, when our worlds have become upended, they’re still right there beside you, looking forward.