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Neha Sharma
Neha Sharma

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How to support your team during the pandemic

It is more than a year we are in the pandemic. Everyone is working remotely and slowly we are losing the touch of humans, cafeteria breaks, lunch walks, sharing food, or having offline parties.

Even now we reached where the fun-Friday, online concerts, or annual functions are not motivating.

People are losing their loved ones and mental health is at the worst.

I remember when I started giving interviews at the start of the pandemic a director of an MNC company asked me:

Question: "How you will motivate your team in a WFH situation?"

(For me, at that time it was easy to answer this question)

My Answer: As a leader no matters what will happen I have to be there for them every morning with positive energy.

Now, after a year I can see that this is very challenging when you are 9 AM - 6 PM sitting in front of the laptop, moving from one meeting to other, living with just your calendar. Even public holidays and weekends are not exciting anymore.

So, what to do? This is one question I am asking myself since the 2nd wave hit India.

1) Accept

Accept that there is a problem. You cannot deny that there is a problem remote work during pandemic vs pre-pandemic is very different.

The reason is pre-pandemic we can at least meet our friends in person after office or monthly/yearly meet our team in person. In the current situation - we cannot.

So, better to accept that there is a problem that people are not as excited about the work as they used to before and we cannot do much about it.

2) Avoid over-doing

Do not...I repeat DO NOT overdo anything to excite your team or to have fun activities. It is better to give your team free time to relax, sleep, or whatever they want to do rather than having online game time. Keep things optional if someone wants to join they will, if they don't want to it is fine.

3) Understand

We need to understand that everyone is working from their home. We have no clue what is going at their end. So, try to understand if someone is not giving 100% for a few days. This is a very hard time.

The office is used to be an excuse to escape from our problems but now there is no line between home and office. Hence, it is very important to understand that there could be a LOT going in their life and we might not able to do anything and they might not share with us. All we can do is understand and let it go but be always there just in case they want to talk about it.

4) Fewer meetings & only scheduled one

This is very important to always plan your week and avoid unplanned meetings as well as have only fewer meetings.

I am sure you must have heard this a lot - "There are so many meetings since we went WFH".

Yes, over-communication is important.

Yes, meetings are the only mode of communicating with the team.

But, plan your meetings and have fewer meetings. Why? this will balance the work and meetings, the team will be less on calls, the team can plan their day well.

Also, trust your team. Just because they are not on calls doesn't mean they are not working.

5) No question asked time-off

Stop asking why people are taking off. Mental health is at the worst for most folks. It is important to give folks time off. Make them understand that work is not an excuse to escape from reality now. Accept and find your escape in something else as this could impact your mental health.

6) Fixed working hours

As everyone knows we all are stuck at home so it is very common to expect that everyone is available 24/7. As a manager, set up fixed working hours and make sure no meetings, calls are getting schedules after that hours. As well as, encourage your team not to work after those hours. The reason is this will set up an example and helps the team to have a work-life balance.

7) Live by calendar

Encourage your time to have the calendar blocked for lunch, short breaks. This will helps in people blocking your calendar at your lunchtime or breaks. Encourage them to say No or Decline meetings but write a small note while declining (to be polite).

8) Informal 1:1

1:1 should not be only focused on the work. Have the light 1:1 talk about anything apart from the work. This is a nice way of having a break from day-to-day work conversation.

9) Lead by example

Always remember you are setting an example for your team. So, lead by example. Take off, keep fewer meetings, have some time for yourself, work within fixed working hours, take care of your mental and physical health.

Stay Safe!!

Let me know what you are doing to keep your team motivated at this time or what you expect your employer to do for you?

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