The last few years have seen many employees moving to a flexible, hybrid or remote working model. But that also makes it increasingly difficult for HR professionals, leaders, and managers to check in on their team’s wellbeing. So here are my top tips on how to support your remote team members!
Support your team’s mental wellbeing
In an office environment, when we were all together, it was so much easier: You check in with colleagues without even realising you were doing it. A quick chat by the water cooler, those minutes walking to and from the meeting room, just saying good morning and grabbing a quick coffee.
All these seemingly casual interactions gave us subconscious cues as to how someone was doing and where we could step in to help.
But things like Zoom and MS Teams mean we just log on to the meeting, do what we need to, and then get on with our work on our own for the rest of the time. But with flexible, hybrid & remote working models, there is a higher risk of people feeling isolated and disconnected.
Make sure that people still feel part of the team with these 4 tips on how to support your remote team members:
1. Celebrate successes
Make good news announcements. Yes, it’s as easy as that.
Too often meetings are seen as something just to get the job done and solve problems. But if everyone is working remotely then communication on what IS working gets overlooked.
So, my first tip is to begin and end each meeting positively. It will reduce anxiety as well as improve engagement, productivity, and proactive problem-solving.
Every solution-focused session begins with the question “What’s been good about your week?” This engages the rational and objective part of your brain.
It’s a good start to our sessions and it’s a great start to meetings as well – calming everyone down and focusing on the good stuff.
Find out more about how to include solution-focused techniques at work.
2. Be clear about working hours
It can be all too easy to log on to check emails or update your diary outside of working hours. But we wouldn’t have done this when we worked solely from the office. We went in to work and (tried) to leave it there when we left.
It’s important to understand that you need to support your team in making sure they step away from the desk and create the expectation that they do not have to be available ALL of the time. The best way to do this is to lead by example.
Not everyone has a separate workspace, and even if they do, normal life can easily encroach into that space. Understand and empathise with your team to appreciate their limitations and ensure that they are getting the breaks they need.
Ensure they also step away for breaks and lunch. When we were in the office this was always a good time to chat with the team and talk about our weekend or the latest Netflix series you are binging. If everyone is just solely in work mode, then it leads to burnout.
3. Be alert for anyone struggling
As a team leader or manager, you can just focus on targets and results and ignore small cues that a team member is struggling. And working from home makes it easy for them to cover up and put on a brave face virtually.
Look out for anyone who seems more withdrawn in meetings or seems to be isolating themselves. Everyone is different and you’ll know those team members that tend to ask for help easily and others who feel reluctant to do this.
It’s important that you stay alert to this and not assume that just because someone is not saying anything they are not struggling.
A one-to-one meeting, stating clearly that it’s just a chat to see how they’re doing, should help you uncover this. Be clear in your communication that you are there not just to lead but to support your team personally as well.
4. Set them up for success
This often gets overlooked but please ensure that your team has all the basics for working from home AND MORE. Providing a laptop is not enough.
Invest funds in ensuring that your team has all they need to be successful. Working from home means that people are now using their own utilities even though they may be saving on the commute.
Things like the right desk and chair, fast internet connection and even blinds for windows can make a huge difference to how well-supported everyone feels. I know of some companies that send a lunch and dinner out to everyone regularly. They even send plants and soft furnishings for their staff’s home offices.
Finding out how to support your remote team members is important – whether they’re working from home, the office, or a mix of both. And don’t forget, this applies as much to your employees as it does to leaders, managers, and board members!