‘Working from home’: sometimes a euphemism for a bit of a skive, a lazy day away from the office. At other times an unspoken instruction not to be disturbed unless it’s ‘life or death’, so you can break the back of a new business proposal or get to grips with an important presentation. In both cases it means ‘don’t bother me unless it’s urgent’.
But now many of us are forced to work form our home office or dining room table, the imaginary ‘do not disturb’ sign should be taken down and replaced with a ‘please call me sign’. Working from home for the odd day out of a busy week is one thing. To be placed in solitary confinement for weeks on end is something else, especially as we try to chart our way through the unfurling scenario that Coronavirus has thrust upon us.
It’s an anxious time, a worrying time and a time that you don’t really want to be cut off from the outside world. Many workers will be feeling a real sense of isolation, uncertain of what’s coming next and no timescale for when things will be back to normal.
That’s why it’s essential if you are the leader of a business or you manage a team that you are more ‘visible’ than ever.
Daily phone calls/video meets with your team, an email update or weekly blog to your whole company – keeps them in touch, lessens the anxiety and gives some sense of progress through this unknown journey we’re all on.
It also gives people the sense that somebody’s still in charge; a sense of security that someone is steering the ship.
No news is, well, news
In some respects it’s like being stuck in an airport departure lounge (fat chance of that at the moment). You’re delayed. You’re desperate for news. But there isn’t any – they’re still trying to find out what’s wrong with your plane, just like they were two hours ago. Nothing’s changed.
But if you’re the one in the lounge, that’s the news; the update. “We’re still working on the plane, we’ve done XYZ, it’ll be at least another hour, we’ll give you an update then.”
You know here you stand, you can plan what to do for that hour. You know what they’ve tried, you know what they’re planning to do. You know you’ve not been forgotten.
As things change, address them. What difference does it make? Let staff know how you intend to deal with it.
Shine a light
If you find even the smallest positive that has come out of this situation; perhaps an opportunity to prepare a marketing strategy, refresh a sales/training presentation, an idea for a new product line or service – share it with your team.
Indeed, looking ahead for when we come out of this is arguably the most important thing. Providing the light at the end of the tunnel, even if no-one else can quite see it yet, is a comfort everybody yearns for.