Many of us are now in our 19th week of working from home. That’s 19 weeks of the unique challenges that come with being away from the office or usual working environment, amidst the ongoing uncertainty of a global pandemic.
While the early days of WFH were eagerly embraced by many as commutes were avoided and PJ bottoms stayed on, the novelty has long worn off and working within the confines of home, day in day out, is proving to take its toll.
Recent articles from BBC News and Stylist magazine discuss the burnout many are feeling. From blurring the lines between work and home, to new challenges that come with the pandemic and lockdown, the global situation has resulted in increased anxiety, stress and exhaustion and left many feeling overwhelmed. Sounding relatable? You’re not the only one!
Adjusting to the ‘new normal’, whether that be participating in countless Zoom meetings or having to socialise with family and friends virtually via a screen, the increased use of technology can also leave us feeling fatigued, and frankly drained. As restrictions slowly relax, allowing us to get back to some form of regularity, it’s normal if you’re still feeling apprehensive or anxious.
With the Government beginning to dial back the ‘work from home if you can’ message from 1st August, many will begin to return to workplaces after more than four months away. That may mean getting on public transport for the first time since before lockdown and readjusting to the daily commute. For business owners and senior leaders, some challenges are just beginning. How do you welcome your workforce back to the office safely? What should you do if team members don’t want to return to the workplace?
I have found that making your team feel truly valued enables a collaborative and creative spirit to flourish, and when that happens… anything is possible! We use the word wisely and set it out here for you so you can support your teams during this setback.
Listening to your team may sound obvious, but when away from the office, there is limited opportunity to do this. Without being able to “pop in” to ask a question, the space to talk and be heard is at best via a scheduled, virtual cuppa. Nancy Kline, author of ‘A Time to Think’, highlights the importance of giving people time and space to verbalise their thoughts without interruption and advises that every attendee at a meeting is given space to do this. Taking this further and validating what has been said by summarising it will make your team feel understood and valued.
Making sure that you are working alongside your team is key. Delegation is great, but if you do it too well and there is nothing left for you to do, your team will feel like minions! Be present, call up your team members occasionally to see how they are. Remember, their personal lives are possibly challenging so try not to stick solely to work issues. You are both human beings not human doings, and your conversations can reflect that!
Being honest and open is the notable difference in good leadership. We only need to look at politics today to see what low levels of trust do to a systemic organisation. If your team are involved, they will trust you. If individuals or teams are left outside in the cold, without cross communication, they will not trust you and they probably won’t trust each other either! Climb the Trust Ladder, by Packtypes creator Will Murray, is a wonderful book to read on this vital ingredient of success.
Empathy is a HUGE factor to determine if someone feels valued or not. Don’t “TELL” someone you understand, show it by your actions! Ask more about the issue they are bringing to you, recognise what it must be like in their shoes and not just the impact that they are having on you or your business. On the flip side, helping your team to understand your agenda using an honest and open approach as discussed above, will also cultivate a sense of value.
When we think we are not doing so well or we are staring setback in the face, it is good to notice how far we have come. Acknowledging the obstacles your employee has overcome to get into work, encourages them to go further and helps them notice the positives. We feel valued when our performance of any description has been noted. Accept that praise may not often come your way for a while, but that by encouraging others you will inspire and motivate them to exceed their own expectations, which may in turn exceed yours!
It may sound obvious to include this one but often we are so keen to empower others that we fail to give clear directions and parameters. If a crew is unclear on the direction or the communication is poor, how can they keep the ship on course? Your team will feel less secure in the absence of clear direction and guidelines. Regular meetings and updates on changes in the workplace can make sure everyone stays on track and you don’t need to turn into an army general!
And finally, here’s a comforting reminder. We are all facing similar pressures and navigating a global pandemic the best we can. While social media may be peddling well-intentioned messages of productivity and making the most of the circumstances, it’s okay to take things one day at a time. It’s okay to not be 100% productive every single day and it’s definitely okay to facilitate self-care and focus on your well-being. Some days may be harder than others, but we WILL get through this.
For any further information on how to make your team feel V.A.L.U.E.D, contact us for a FREE consultation!