Coronavirus: five ways to be a better manager when working from home
March 27, 2020
Everyone is adjusting to life during the coronavirus pandemic. For many, working from home is the new normal and poses all sorts of new challenges.
Anyone in a position of management has, overnight, lost many of the tangible aspects of doing their job – particularly the non-verbal aspects of communication and how we interact in space, in person.
It is essential that managers are attuned to the various personal needs of their colleagues at this time.
The boundaries between work and personal life erode when we work from home and everyone will experience this situation in a different way, depending on their family situation, their dependants, and the various dimensions of their personalities.
This requires managers to put themselves in the shoes of their colleagues and take their perspective.
There is a large amount of research into this idea of taking another person’s perspective, as this approach has found to have a range of positive consequences – in particular bringing people closer.
Fundamentally it requires us all to be our most compassionate and caring selves. Here are five tips to help at this fraught time.
1. Understand the specifics of personal situations
For those who have no children or dependants to take care of, it might be easy to imagine coronavirus as something that has significantly cleared our agenda.
Some may believe they are more focused working from home, without the usual office distractions.
But the reality for many will involve overseeing care for children and even home learning following the closure of their schools.
This will be a daunting task. Others may also be stressed about loved ones they are separated from and who might be at high risk of suffering from the current pandemic.
2. Adapt work expectations
The abrupt shift in normal procedures requires managers to adapt their expectations of their workers, who may be less productive or finding it hard to focus.
Managers should concentrate on listening more, given the lack of visible office signals, and adopt a softer management style that enables workers to explain their particular constraints and methods for adjusting to them.
It’s also important to remember that people might not be forthcoming on how the current turmoil is affecting their mental health.
Managers need to be attuned to this so that organisations can offer support through their human resources departments or other channels.
3. Maintain contact and make it a routine
Constant communication channels need to be maintained and reinforced.