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In these tough times, how can managers help their teams get things done?

In these tough times, how can managers help their teams get things done?

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This post is part of a series that offers tips and tricks for working from home in a pandemic.

It’s a thorny problem: staying home, trying to get work done while balancing the needs kids, a spouse, elders, and pets. What lines still existed between “work life” and “personal life” have now been completely obliterated—and the responsibilities we all have in these two “lives” have intensified.

Conference calls haven’t stopped—for many, they have only increased in both volume and intensity. And the question, “what are we having for dinner” has taken on a plaintive tone as the reliable, favorite “go-to” meals aren’t necessarily reliable anymore.

More than one person I know spends daytime hours being a parent and activity planner, putting work off until the evening, at which time they’re working until after 1 a.m.

Rethink priorities

As a manager, you could be in this situation yourself—managing remote staff, getting your own work done, and tending to the constant needs of family

Most employees working from home are trying to be as productive as they can, to meet deadlines and standards and keep the work on track. As managers, we need to rethink which tasks are important and what can be moved to the bottom of the pile:

  • Take a hard look at what’s needed to keep the business going and consider dropping or lowering the priority of anything that is not critical to the ongoing operation of the business.
  • Set realistic expectations and acknowledge the difficulties in the home environment; ease the bar a bit. Setting daily and weekly targets helps foster a sense of accountability and achievement.
  • Realize that standard working hours may not be practicable—be flexible and open to different work patterns.
  • Keep communication going, among members working in virtual teams as well as those working on their own. On conference calls and in video communication, don’t ignore what’s going on in the background—be supportive and compassionate, and even engage those appearing on your team’s webcams.

Remote work is set to become the new normal. But during this particular crisis, managers need to revisit their remote working policies with this new set of distractions in mind and figure out how to help people keep the organization as productive as possible.

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