It’s been about a year since the COVID pandemic first hit, so chances are you’ve gotten used to working from home. But the transition isn’t always easy—even after a year.
If you’ve been managing your team remotely for a while but are still struggling to find your footing, that’s not unusual. Here are some tips to improve team cohesion and communication in the midst of ongoing lockdowns and pandemic challenges.
Clearly Define Your Expectations
You probably had clear expectations and routines in the office, and all of that changed by necessity when your team went virtual. If your team is still struggling to find its footing in our new virtual normal, it may be that these expectations have not been reset.
Consider the routine you used to have in the office. Reproducing that exactly in the virtual environment may not be possible or workable, but what do you feel was the most important aspect of that routine?
If it was the camaraderie, consider making a Slack channel just for team jokes and socializing. If it was regular check-ins with each team member, consider re-instituting a weekly or monthly virtual check-in to go over everyone’s concerns and successes.
If it was a clear, well-established schedule for when work should be done, think about ways you can break down each team member’s duties, goals, and deadlines more clearly.
And if you’re not sure how to re-establish expectations and routines, ask your team members what changes would be helpful to them.
Be Responsive to Your Team’s Challenges
Re-establishing expectations and routines is important—but it can’t be the whole picture. You’ll need to build in flexibility to take everyone’s changed circumstances into account.
Everyone on your team is carrying a heavy burden right now, even if you don’t see it. Things like caring for children full-time and managing in-home schooling, dealing with a spouse’s loss of income, handling illness and perhaps even death in the family, and more.
If your team has been struggling to find cohesion lately, it may help to be a little more flexible around your existing expectations.
This could include allowing more wiggle room for deadlines, keeping online meetings shorter, or even being more lenient about activating cameras during Zoom calls. Making their home space clean and presentable in preparation for a video call can add an extra burden to employees already stretched to their limit.
Not all of this advice may be applicable to you and your team, but it always helps to consider how you can lessen the stress on your employees while ensuring the work still gets done.
Recognize and Reward Your Team
Even if you didn’t have a formalized awards system at your office, you probably had ways to casually let your team members know when they were excelling. It’s harder to do that when everything is virtual.
Consider introducing a formal method for recognizing outstanding performance for your virtual team.
You could make it as informal as highlighting a team member’s achievements in every meeting—or you could establish a formal award program. You could even highlight an outstanding team member once a month on your social media platform.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of awards and recognition is making it public for everyone on your team to see. Personally offering thanks for a job well done is also much appreciated, but public recognition makes it much more impactful.
If your team has been struggling to stay cohesive and connected lately, there may be a lot of factors in play. A breakdown of established routines, added stresses related to the pandemic, and a lack of positive feedback may all be contributing. These measures could be an excellent start to getting your team’s groove back.