2020; no question it’s been an absolute shocker with ongoing uncertainty for everyone, not to mention difficult beyond belief for those who’ve had to undergo a personal loss. Redundancies have been rife across several sectors, and we’ve all had to get used to living and working quite differently as the whole of society as we ‘knew’ it was brought to a stand-still.

While December 2 sees the end of the current national lockdown, who knows how many more lay ahead of us this next few months as we continue to grapple with the Covid-19 virus. Of course, thanks to all this uncertainty, many companies have already converted from ‘in office’ working to a more flexible model incorporating a mix of office based and home-based working (WFH), and some now operating 100% from home.

Sounds good? Well, for some of your team, yes, who feel they are finally living the dream – rolling out of bed a little later than previously with no commute to contend with; even staying in their PJs while they work! But, for all those rocking the WFH life, there are plenty out there less than keen to embrace it. They miss the structure to their week – the rigid time-table, and the getting to and from work – not to mention having real people around them, that buzz you only get at the office, the banter around the water-cooler or the coffee machine. And without all of that, they are feeling completely and utterly lost.

If you’re a people manager, you’ll be well aware of the added responsibility placed on your shoulders this year. It’s not easy, what with your own concerns to contend with, although with a team relying on you for support, it’s time to demonstrate exactly why you were given this role in the first place and lead the way like you’ve never led before!

So, lockdown leaders, need some ideas on taking the team through the intermittent lockdowns and out of each one again with style and positivity?

Nail down the structure Now, for this one, you might need to cast your mind back a good while to a time when this working world was all new. Maybe you had recently graduated or had just begun an apprenticeship. Not only were you new to the company, with no idea on its ways and culture, you had no idea on the structure around your new role. And along came lockdown... All of a sudden, you’re completely on your own.

This is the reality for many people across the UK – the world, even – making it all the more vital for people managers to set the tone for your teams, particularly your new employees, so they know everything that’s expected of them. Provide clarity on the day-to-day structure and your expectations to prevent the team from feeling lost and to maximise their productivity. It ensures everyone is on the same path.

Regular catch-ups You likely did this in the flesh prior to lockdown and it’s even more important you do it now, albeit remotely. If you already had a set timetable for catch ups such as team meetings and 121s, make sure you mirror this so it remains in line with your team’s expectations and stays simple. If you feel the need to increase your individual catch ups – understandable with no opportunity for chatting across the office as you typically do - remember there’s a clear difference between checking up and checking in which your team needs to be aware of. Make each staff member aware of the ‘why,’ here; this is a support mechanism designed to help them and not down to any lacking in trust. Being open and honest with your team will ensure you continue to get the best from each of them ongoing.

Team events – on or offline! Just when you thought you couldn’t stomach another online meeting, up one pops for a team quiz this Friday evening. Super…! It’s easy to understand how, after a week’s worth of virtual catch ups with you, other colleagues, and your peer groups, everyone might be feeling somewhat Zoomed out. And yet, keeping your team motivated doesn’t have to be through an online activity, in fact, you can set many a fun task offline. Even if that’s issuing said quiz to your team as a document, emailed to each member of staff to print out and have a go at completing before sending their answers back to you for marking. Or, should you be working with a bunch of bookworms, how about selecting a ‘hardback’ everyone can read collectively – say, a chapter a week - for discussion at your regular team meetings. Fictional or motivational, it will help everyone to stay connected through a common theme.

Encouraging regular breaks Just because you’re working from home, you’re still sat looking at a screen all day – many of you, from a position you wouldn’t dream of when working in the office. Your sofa, your bed, even stood up with your device at a kitchen worktop! Just because you’re at home, it doesn’t negate the need for regular breaks from your work to give your hands, eyes and brain a breather. While you can’t force your team out into the open air each day – remember, some may have reduced space in which they can do this – you can certainly do your best to encourage it. Suggest a set time for breaks and check in with your team individually to see they’re sticking to their routine and taking time out for themselves. Everyone comes back to their workstation raring to go after a break!

Step up the wellbeing Mental health has to be one of the most challenging aspects of lockdown. Now, if you’re providing a forum to chat with colleagues and encouraging rest time, fantastic, you’re already helping with their wellbeing. How about introducing something into the working week that’s above the standard, to help with the team’s relaxation? Yoga, for example, is an effective way to relax the mind and stay grounded; it’s also readily available online since your average Yogi was forced into working from home, just as you were. If you already had a budget in place for coffees, workplace drinks or a monthly birthday lunch, how about trading this in for a spot of online yoga?

No budget for virtual classes? No worries. Introducing gratitude to the team and ways to focus on all that is good in their world is equally effective. The positive outcomes each one has achieved over the course of the week – a new customer win, a 5-star review, or an issue they have helped to resolve. Maybe it’s something which has absolutely zilch to do with the workplace and more of a personal achievement – finishing a part-time course, learning a new recipe, or improving their PB on Strava.

So, there we have it. Just a few ideas for you to keep your team keen, present and positive whether it’s a temporary WFH strategy or one set for the long-term.

Need a hand on expanding your team further next year? It’s never too early to talk recruitment with 121! Give us a call today.

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