By now, most of us have settled into a routine for working from home. Since we can’t work together in the way in which we are familiar, we have found ways to figure it out. But what happens now? How can you continue to manage a fully remote team and not compromise on results or employee wellness? This change is likely something we’ll be adapting to for a while – even after we come back to ‘normal.’

Remote working challenges can include everything from procuring resources to finding the right person, limited resources, and work-life balance. In addition, some, if not all, parents are now splitting time between teacher and employee. How do we make it all work for everyone?

Routine is More Important Than Ever

Most likely, you have established your work from home routine.  Hopefully, work expectations are clear, and you are meeting them successfully.  And yet, while you may have a routine, the unexpected still occurs. Kids need help with a zoom call or have a question about math. The dog needs a walk, and kids need breaks. If you have not done so already, adjust your schedule for these added considerations, including breaks for you. Plan a bit for the unexpected, so you are not caught off guard, which adds unnecessary stress. Perhaps, without realizing it, we may be benefiting from the things our new routine has forced us to leave behind. Our commute has shifted from fighting traffic to making it from the kitchen to our home office. But the transition from home to office no longer exists, which probably includes listening to your favorite morning radio show or podcast. These moments are just as important as any in your workday. Take a few minutes before and after work to transition to give yourself a break.

Your social routine needs to be looked after also. If we cannot be together physically, we can connect over the screen and phone. The same goes for your exercise routine. If you can’t get out to the gym, don’t let your physical activity slide. Look for a program online that can keep you moving and feeling great. There are two immensely essential pieces of mental well-being and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Work in Teams Where you Can

Before COVID-19, one of the biggest complaints from remote workers was the lack of connection with the rest of the team. While many enjoy the solitude, others find themselves missing the water cooler conversation or meeting up for lunch. Many organizations have already implemented video chat programs to help keep people connected and work on track while they are apart. Morale can likely use a boost too. Consider planning a virtual happy hour or encourage employees to “meet” for lunch. What ideas might your team have? Get creative and give things a try.

Pairing at work, or working together via a work-share application,  is not just about getting a job done and being accountable. It is also about the mental health of our teams. When we work in an office, we have a chance to see everyone, observe nonverbal cues, and check-in. However, when we are isolated as we have been, there is a bigger great chance of employees feeling alone and vulnerable. Routines and virtual meet-ups aside, make sure you communicate important resources are also available for mental health.

Communication and Trust

Make check-ins part of your routine – ask employees how they are doing at the start of a call. And, while your team does need to hear from you, be careful not to micromanage.  Communicate needs, expectations, and deadlines and then trust the job will get done. Micromanaging your remote team can be a frustrating and fruitless pursuit. Share your concerns if you have them, and if/when a challenge develops, address it right away. Does everyone on your team use video when on a call? Seeing each other can go a long way towards feeding the soul.

Cut a Wider Path

Pandemic. Crisis. Lockdown. Quarantine. Whatever we are calling this, things have changed. And, now is the time to exercise empathy. Everyone has an additional burden placed on them, and these can be different in every household. Parents are homeschooling; people are cut off from their social circles, and families many have additional caregiving responsibilities with limited resources. Give everyone a break and adjust your goalposts accordingly. Yes, we all have jobs to do and goals to meet, but the method by which we get there is changing. Identify and share your organizations’ Employee Assistance Program information.

Previously, we had obligations outside of work, home, family, kids, friends. At work, our standard expectation is that our team is 100% focused on the job while they are there. This expectation has changed significantly as many responsibilities need to be satisfied all at once. Everybody needs a break here until we can all find our comfort levels.

Our likely reality is just when we figure this out; it may be time to go back into the office. We will have new challenges given our new world. Remember and follow Gallup’s global research on the universal needs of followers, hope, trust, compassion, and stability, even in times of immense change.


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