We have our masks ready and soap supply tight. We are not going out. But we still have our jobs to do and managing a team remotely has become a new trick to be mastered for many. Difficulties are amplified and the chaos is dialled up to 10. It does not have to be this difficult.
Be more flexible
As a manager, you must accept the fact that working from home will not be the same as everyone working together at the same place and time. The employees have been used to working together under the same operating conditions with the same work schedule. They will need time to get accustomed to the self-paced work and personalization. You should allow them the flexibility to work on their terms. Time to reset your expectations for how work gets done and let go of when and how the job is carried out.
It's easy to feel disconnected from the people you work with when you are working remotely. Managers have to make sure the teams are not losing morale. Checking in with every employee, either through messages or calls, can build a sense of social connection both within team members and between you and your team. Managers should ask for regular updates from the team to avoid any information vacuum within.
Encourage team culture
Working alone at home can be quite tedious and demoralizing. The "Buddy system" has been proven to be an effective strategy to boost team esprit de corps. You should divide the team into pairs so that they can get the appropriate mutual support. This would also decrease your workload as attending to each individual's needs would drain your managerial vitality. Another way to promote leadership would be to assign a leader in each pair so that they can check in regularly and evaluate the overall engagement and well-being.
Respect the quiet
No communication can also be a form of communication. Being available on instant calls and messages does not necessarily show whether a person is working or not. As a manager, you should trust your team and allow them a "Do not Disturb" period during the day. The constant stream of messages may be overwhelming for someone who prefers to work in silence. Make sure to keep a balance between the blocks of interrupted time and check-ins.
Laughter and optimism are contagious. As a manager, you must display hopefulness and confidence so that the team stays motivated in these stressful days. Social distancing can block out initiative and creativity in the team. One way to promote creative spirit would be to assign a fixed time of the day when the entire team can video call and share new ideas as a stimulus. It is also essential that you create a supportive environment and exercise empathy both towards yourself and your team.