How to ensure your team feels supported as remote working continues

The doors of many Hatton Garden offices are likely to remain closed for a little while longer, since the government’s recovery plan offers no clear guidance as to when non-essential workers might be able to return to their places of work. 

But each business and the people behind them remain our biggest priority. Although office work has been displaced for the moment, we know it continues remotely for many teams dispersed throughout London and beyond. 

We also know that it can feel increasingly difficult to stay motivated and feel connected when it has been so long since you’ve seen your team in person. So we wanted to share some tips on how businesses can communicate with their teams - including furloughed workers - and keep spirits high during the weeks of lockdown that remain. 

Equally, the Hatton BID team is still available to any businesses or resident that needs our support. Please contact Project Director Debbie Akehurst or email [email protected] to get in touch. 

1. Check in regularly with your team 

Checking in regularly with teams and keeping up regular meetings via telephone phone or video call is essential for maintaining a sense of normality and routine. 

In addition to this, most teams will find they need to schedule in additional catch up meetings which were not necessary in the past. Where office chat would normally fill in gaps in knowledge and help teams pick up skills, remote teams have less visibility on what colleagues are working on. These calls can be quick and informal. As much as anything, they allow teams to continue to engage with each other. 

As we go longer and longer without interacting in person, don’t be tempted to let team catch-ups slip. They keep everyone involved and engaged, and this is crucial for effective remote working. 
2. Employers and managers must keep their teams in the loop

Whether it’s a general business update, a new lead, financial losses or changes within the team such as furloughs or new hires, team leaders should be extra vigilant about keeping their colleagues in the loop about any business updates when working remotely. 

With so much going on, it can be easy for managers to forget to update staff. But general anxiety will only be compounded if teams feel that they are unable to access the information they need - particularly if it implicates the safety of their jobs. Being transparent will help build trust and confidence, and at a time of great uncertainty employees deserve to know what state the business is in and how it is coping. 

Though it's impossible to answer the wider unknowns, transparent conversations go a long way. And to help address any unanswered questions, as well as to allow staff to bring up more sensitive concerns, introduce an ‘open-door policy’: block out a couple of hours in your calendar for your team to book one-to-one calls to share their concerns or questions. 

3. Be mindful of colleagues’ different needs 

Some team members will have adjusted better to lockdown than others, and everyone will struggle with different aspects of our ‘new normal’ at different times. Businesses should be mindful of this and be open to adapting to varying needs.

For example, a colleague with children might benefit from adjusting their working hours, or at least meetings, to fit around home schooling and childcare commitments. Those with unwell family members may need to take leave. Others may be sharing limited work space or resources with housemates, and need flexibility on deadlines or for another team member to share the load. 

Remember the potential for issues we haven’t encountered before and continue to have open conversations with your team about what measures are needed to support different people. Just because lockdown has continued for a little while doesn’t mean everyone will be completely confident and happy with their work-from-home set up and their work-life balance. 

4. Use methods of communication that work for everyone

Some communication channels are better suited to certain people and tasks than others. Utilise technology to cater to your team’s needs and, if nothing else, to offer some variation to repetitive routines.  

Zoom or video calls go some way to replace the human element we’ve lost with our lack of face-to-face contact. Particularly for staff isolating alone, seeing a human face during working hours even if via a screen will be valuable. 

Email round-ups are less personal, but can offer a quick and helpful overview of agendas at a week’s beginning or end to keep teams in the loop. 

Instant messaging platforms, such as Slack, save cluttering inboxes for shorter notes. Plus, added functionality such as the ability to filter projects and people via channels can be good for productivity. If the obligation to reply to notifications becomes too time-intensive, consider having team members update their status to show themselves as unavailable when they need to focus on a deadline. 

Alternatively, Trello is an effective visual tool for giving oversight on actions across the team as a whole. 

And if technology is failing you (or if video chats have become tiresome), phone calls are always reliable. For one-to-one conversations that need in depth explanation, they are also likely to be more efficient. 

For more from us on the best communication tools to connect your team at a distance, check out this article.

5. Catch up on the normal stuff

Small talk missed throughout the day is just as important as work updates, so set aside time at the beginning of meetings to catch up with colleagues!

Morale also depends on teams finding new ways to engage with each other. If you would usually have gone to one of Hatton Garden’s pubs together on a Friday, continue to observe the occasion via a Zoom pub quiz. If you usually play music over office speakers, a communal Spotify playlist could be created for staff to add their song choices to.  

Alternatively, delegate a ‘water cooler’ channel on Slack to non-work chat; a space where pet photos, netflix recommendations and baking attempt reviews are welcomed.

6. Don’t forget about those on furlough 

 Finally, don’t forget to check in with team members that may have been placed on furlough. 

Ask for the employees permission to contact them on their personal email address and phone number, to avoid conflict with furlough rules. Whilst they are unable to work, involving them in the social activities mentioned will ensure that they continue to feel valued and included. 

It would be inappropriate for them to dial into other meetings, but relaying general updates about the state of the business is essential.  Keeping furloughed employees in the loop will help them to feel supported during what is a very uncertain time, and will help them pick up where they left off when they can resume normal working hours.

For more news & updates from us, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @HattonGDN.

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