We are now in the midst of a pandemic, and the impact of the COVID-19 is increasingly being felt across the globe.The effort to address this crisis is both extremely important for us all and poses a range of challenges for us as we respond to the demands of the situation.
In these trying times, all workers are under tremendous stress and anxiety, both personally and professionally. This stress and anxiety are undoubtedly exacerbated by the need to work from home and engage in social distancing, which can make people feel even more isolated.
As much as remote work can be fraught with challenges, there are also relatively quick and inexpensive things that office managers can do to ease the transition. We listed 6 practical tips on how to take charge and help your team cope in this situation.
1. Acknowledge the situation and its challenges
In response to the uncertainties presented by COVID-19, we are all encouraged to explore letting our employees work remotely and to limit in-person interactions, replacing them with video and telephone conferences.
As an office manager, you need to acknowledge this situation and understand factors that can make remote work especially demanding. Otherwise high-performing employees may experience declines in job performance and engagement when they begin working remotely, especially in the absence of preparation and supervision.
Challenges inherent in remote work include lack of face-to-face supervision, lack of access to information, or distractions at home. But more than that, the biggest challenge your employees might be experiencing is stress or anxiety.
With that, working remotely shouldn’t stop you from being an effective office manager. You can still ensure you’re aligned with your team to maximize their talent and catapult productivity to the next level even if you are all working remotely.
2. Manage remote workers effectively
Working from home may seem like the dream set-up for some, as it offers the possibility to tap into that latent creativity from the comfort of a cozy, familiar environment.
However, it can also bring a unique set of challenges — especially during this time of uncertainty. Shifting to a remote work environment can be difficult, especially for companies that are accustomed to the idea of presence being a job requirement.
While it can be tempting to expect your remote staff to work the same hours as their office-bound counterparts, it’s not always the case. Managing your remote team effectively is not about monitoring the amount of time they spend online, It’s about building and supporting a team that doesn’t need to be micromanaged in the first place.
Offer ideas that will help your employees to better manage this whole new routine of working from home. As a worker, you also need to create an environment of control for yourself so that you’re able to handle that you may be working from home for a while.
To help you further, we listed 7 Tips For Managing Employees Remotely
3. Set realistic goals and expectations
Pressure is unavoidable due to the demands of the current work environment. However, that pressure can become even more excessive and unmanageable during these challenging times. This situation can lead to stress or anxiety that can take a toll on your employees’ health and the business’ performance.
As an office manager, you must set realistic goals and expectations. Set regular progress reviews and adjust your goals as needed. Unrealistic workloads and deadlines can be overwhelming. Make a clear list of tasks and rank them in order of priority.
Also, establish structured daily check-ins that are regular and predictable. There should be a forum in which employees know that they can consult with you, and that their concerns and questions will be heard. This could take the form of a series of one-on-one calls, if your employees work more independently from each other, or a team call, if their work is highly collaborative.
Prior planning can help your employees manage expectations and gauge issues they may come across. Setting clear expectations and realistic goals can save you and your team from stress and anxiety.
4. Provide support and considerations
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations and everyone has different working conditions and environment. Therefore, you must not only understand your employees’ situation but also help them in maintaining their well-being and remaining productive. You must make an effort to know:
- Do my team members have the right physical set-up, such as equipment to do their work remotely, platforms for online communication, and a comfortable working environment?
- Do my team members have meaningful connection opportunities, beyond meetings, that focus on the work? People need time to have fun and engage in supportive chats with colleagues just as they would in the office.
- Do my team members have an appropriate workload considering their change of circumstances? There are many people who are working alongside home-schooling, supporting others at risk, and self-isolating.
- Is someone in my team experiencing this pandemic harder than everyone else? There are people who are deeply affected by this pandemic, including those experiencing mental health conditions or those affected by the virus itself.
As an office manager, you should aim to address these issues to support your employees in achieving an adequate work mindset away from the regular workplace — discuss matters like taking a break, offer emotional support, or encourage them to prioritize self-care. You can be a good leader by providing support, assistance and consideration to the ones who really need it.
5. Let your employees know that you care
Although it is always preferable to establish clear remote-work policies and training in advance, in times of crisis or other rapidly changing circumstances, this level of preparation may not be feasible.
As a leader in the workplace, you must take into consideration the other personal issues and conditions of your employees. Be sure you are always showing compassion and encouragement. Encourage them to ask you questions, and open up about their struggle whether about work or their personal life. Your employees want to know that you are reachable and that you share a common goal.
Investing in a workplace culture that’s supportive and conducive will allow you to effectively manage your team through this crisis. Be transparent with what you know. You will increase loyalty and retention as a byproduct because of your concern. People want something to hold onto right now. The company is a great thing to anchor to.
6. Promote resilience
The fact that we have no clearly visible finish line adds to the ambiguity and resultant tension of this pandemic. We are going to need to intentionally exercise personal and organizational resilience strategies to effectively complete this long haul.
As an office manager, resist any temptation to ignore the ramifications of this very serious situation. Instead, carefully appraise the seriousness of the problem without magnifying it out of proportion nor pretending it doesn’t exist. This strategy includes being highly selective regarding your sources of information.
Encourage everyone on your team to practice self-care. Confidence is a valuable ally in combating this stressful time, and taking action is a powerful stress-reducer. Remind you and your team that there are many different ways of successfully dealing with a stressful situation. Let go of what you cannot change and intentionally engage in tasks where you do have some control.
Encourage your employees to take time to decompress after work by relaxing — perhaps by listening to soothing music, taking a walk, gardening, reading or exercising. You could also choose to perform a more formal relaxation technique such as deep breathing or meditation that quiets your mind.
Lastly, talk with your work team about how they can function productively at work and remain hopeful despite the uncertainty. Talk to your employees about what they can do to help flatten the curve — coach them, mentor them, and inspire them.
It is well known that ambiguity contributes to employee stress, and this pandemic is creating tremendous uncertainty. Indeed, it is still unclear how long this pandemic will last and how devastating it will ultimately be.
So as an office manager, now is the time to show true leadership and compassion by following the tips above. However, don’t forget to look after yourself too. You can still rely on what has worked for you before which helps you manage your stress while being an effective leader at the same time.
Take this opportunity to prepare for a new workforce coming back to the office — planning enjoyable things to do in your workplace after this pandemic can be a nice reward for all your hard work, and something to look forward to each day.
Make sure to share this article with anyone you think could use it!
When you find yourself in need of wine, coffee, kombucha, tea, beer, or snacks for your office or event, shoot us a message!
This article was brought to you by Office Libations, your San Francisco Bay Area office coffee, keg delivery, and snack service. Delivering top local brands and kegs of cold brew coffee, kombucha, beer, and wine.