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Keeping Your Remote Team Enthused During Covid-19

Nobody knows how this is all going to play out..... For every state that has gone through its phased reopening and is keeping the coronavirus at bay, there’s another state where positive cases are surging again and officials are rolling back their previous decisions.

This thing is going to be with us for a while, and that means more businesses will continue to operate remotely – putting the onus on owners and managers to keep an engaged and enthused staff still working at peak efficiency. Not easy.

Sure, many of us have done it for the last four months or so. And there’s something to be said for getting up and working in a T-shirt and jeans …. sweatpants …. shorts …. pajamas? But there’s also something to be said for the intimacy of an office, for the immediacy of having questions answered or bouncing ideas off each other, and just the general camaraderie of work colleagues and friends. So how to keep everybody motivated and on point working remotely? A few thoughts.

* Emphasize their importance. Especially in a PR firm, and especially during these trying times, the message still has to get through for your clients. Someone still has to create that message, craft it, refine it and ultimately deliver it. You’re relying on them more than ever to be autonomous. Give them a sense of self.

* Be available. It’s one thing for employees to be in the office with you and get feedback in real-time. It’s quite another to have to wait for a text or an email to be returned. Make your availability a priority for them. Better yet start a GCHAT for teams that stays open all day and people can shoot the team a message or you can pop in an article you just read in real time. It is simpler and easier than a team wide email and everyone can answer ASAP - it also creates the closest thing to yelling over at a co-worker "What are you having for lunch?" or "Did you see Client X's email?"

* Set clearly defined daily goals. It’s one thing to say, ‘Hey team, we have to wrap up that project by end of day.’ It’s quite another to put it in a company-wide email with bullet points and instruction.

* Delegate authority. Don’t be afraid to empower your employees with responsibility. It keeps them engaged and connected. And it makes them feel more like a stakeholder than an employee. Give them a chance to flex their muscles with independent problem-solving.

* According to the Harvard Business Review, if you want your teams to be engaged in their work, you have to make their work engaging. Make sure your weekly routines are not focused only on the tactical work – the concrete plans you need to execute, like the tickets you need to answer, or boxes you need to check. Half of your week should also be focused on adaptive performance, where there is no plan to follow, but instead, experimentation and problem-solving.

* Non-business contact. How about a phone call, a text, an email that has absolutely nothing to do with work? Just a simple check-in to ask how your employee is doing, how his/her family is, is there anything he/she needs?

* By the same token …. If it’s a relatively small company and/or you have the means to do so, how about a gift card for $10? Take the time, look up where your worker lives, see what’s around, and send them a card and a note. “Hey Andy, heard there was a Starbucks across the street from you.

Enjoy!” Look, it’s hard to be a leader and a friend. But as executives and supervisors and mentors, we can show our human side...and right now the human side is what is going to get us through this $hit$how.

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