How do I keep my team happy & productive while working from home?
Mental Health & Wellbeing was a hot topic before COVID 19 took over our lives. It is now a priority, as working from home becomes the new normal for most people.
In these unprecedented times, we need to keep our businesses afloat and our teams motivated, engaged and supported. So how can we look after our wellbeing in addition to leading our teams proficiently in such times?
Here we want to share our 5 top tips for working from home:
1 HAVE REGULAR FACE-TO-FACE CONTACT
We are social creatures with a need to bond, maintaining healthy relationships with people is so important for your mental wellbeing.
- Increase social activity. The current term ‘social distancing’ actually refers more accurately to physical distancing. Therefore, we should actually be regulating our interactive activity with people, including our team members, friends and especially members of our family not in our household.
- Our team here at Force Four are using a video conferencing platform to have morning and afternoon, ‘face-to-face’ virtual catch ups, so try to…
- Organise to meet your team online at routine times to discuss daily priorities and successes
- Chat little and often to colleagues, family friends and neighbours but be aware of ensuring you get quality, focused time without distractions.
- Let people know the times you will be concentrating on work, so they understand clearly the sections of the day that you wish not to be disturbed.
- Keep your video chat open while you make a cuppa or get on with some work, this will work as moral support for everyone in your team and reduce that fearful sense of isolation.
2 REMEMBER THAT YOUR TEAM ARE NOT ROBOTS!
We are aware that everyone’s home situation is unique and to lead our teams well remotely we need to understand their emotional needs and by becoming aware of their working environments.
- Be kind and supportive of flexible working, for example children requiring home schooling, a needy pet or any other commitment causing disruption to their working day.
- Communicate with your team daily – ask them how they are feeling and really listen to the answer. Here at Force Four, on morning our afternoon calls we start and finish with ‘how are we all feeling?’ It is your job as a manager or leader to pick up on any anxious behaviour i.e. rapid flurries of unreadable emails, body language as best you can during video chats and if you are concerned contact them privately and follow up with them regularly.
- Support your team’s emotional needs, as best you can. Encourage them to focus on the things they can control. Work with them on their daily task list and job priorities, this will help with both their stress and productivity levels.
- Encourage your teams to continue writing to do lists but remember its really important to focus on completing one main job each day.
As a manager or leader you may need to show by example that its ok to feel anxious or vulnerable by offering one of your anxious thoughts and asking your team for feedback by doing that they will see that it is ok to not be ok.
3 KEEEEEEP LEARNING!
In the way that Strictly Come Dancing cheers us up on a dark, winters evening…
- Make sure you encourage your teams to keep doing the things they enjoy, these might include hobbies, crafts, exercise, performing arts to name a few.
- During the working day try to keep their minds active with a bit of fun! This week our team have been using video chat to host quizzes. Try just before or just after lunch depending on your teams prime working times. This will help to spark the friendly banter that would happen in the normal workplace.
- Don’t forget to keep your own brain fed. One thing that has been really helpful in our team is that our management have approved for us all to use audible books for our personal and professional development. We have been urged to take time out of the working day in 10-minute slots to listen to an e-book. The feedback from the team has been that they find that a good time to do this is during a much-needed break from out screens, you could even try stretching while you listen.
The Force Four team are currently reading Authentic Gravitas by Dr Rebecca Newton:
Managers need the skills to monitor engagement, workload and stresses. Why not use this time to stay on top of your leadership skills and refresh your understanding by enrolling in an online management course?
4 TRY TO GIVE RATHER THAN TAKE
All managers still have a duty of care if their staff are working from home and we need to support wherever we can.
- Your team should have the knowledge and resources they need to do their jobs effectively from home. This could be technical support i.e. ensuring remote servers, file sharing accounts are up and running correctly or it could be as simple as ensuring that everyone has their own laptop with a webcam to allow frequent face-to-face engagements with your team.
- Think about your approach as a manager. There is a leadership style known famously as ‘servant leadership’ this takes the typical hierarchy where employees are supposed to serve their bosses and turns it upside down. Instead, leaders serve their people.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- LISTENING – does your team believe you want to hear about their feelings and ideas and value them?
- GROWTH – does your team believe that you are committed to helping them grow and develop in their role?
- EMPATHY – does your team believe that you will understand what is happening in their lives and how it affects them?
- AWARENESS – does your team believe that you have a strong awareness for what’s going on?
- HEALING – does your team come to you when they need help or when something traumatic has happen in their lives?
Learn more about Robert K Greenleaf’s thoughts on leadership:
The best way we can give something to our teams at the moment is to help them to understand that their mental health and wellbeing is a priority to you as their line manager. You could ask them what tools they might find useful and communicate clearly to them the support your organisation has available.
Mind, the mental health charity has recently said “We know that this is a worrying time for everyone with lots of uncertainty and potentially difficult choices for both employees and employers. Find more guidance via the Mental Health at Work coronavirus toolkit which brings together a selection of helpful online resources to support people at work with their mental health during this period”
5- HEALTHY HEART = HEALTHY HEAD
That leads us nicely onto general health and wellbeing, besides the physical benefits there are huge mental benefits of getting outside when you can.
According to Shane O’Mara, a neuroscientist and author of the book ‘In Praise of Walking’, walking is hugely complicated for your brain.
“Putting one foot in front of the other loosens us up to make new connections that help spark new ideas. It dampens down the stress and anxiety that keep us from curiosity and learning. It can even change your personality for the better over time.” – Shane O’Mara
Touch on the basics of health and wellbeing again with your team, as they embark on their new working from home regime:
- Eat a healthy balanced diet. Here are some more helpful articles for sharing with your team:
- Learn more about the benefits of eating brain boosting foods: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/10-foods-boost-your-brainpower
- Let’s not forget about the benefit of dark chocolate on our brain function: https://bebrainfit.com/benefits-dark-chocolate/
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day
- Get physical and take regular screen breaks (add link to daily routine blog)
- Create a daily routine – hop in the shower, get dressed, commute to work (a quick walk around the block will do it) See how we are planning our routines. (add link to daily routine blog)
- Use a supportive chair and sit near to a window for fresh air and natural light
- Exercise once a day, get on your bike, start the couch to 5k running challenge or try an exercise class online. If they aren’t already why not get your team and their children involved in Joe Wicks 9am PE classes.
The Force Four Team have been taking part in a group exercise session, check out the British Heart Foundations 10-minute living room workout for an easy to follow heart raiser, we have been keeping our live chat going so we can see everyone giving it go and have a laugh!
This quick guide may help you to work from home more productively while keeping your heart healthy and your head above water.
There’s nothing we can do about all the variables at play that impact mental health but by looking after ourselves and our teams, we can go some way to work to the best of our ability while safe in our own homes.
If you want any further advice or just a chat with a member of our experienced training team just give us call on 0800 470 4441.