Here we go again… how are your team?

And so it’s Level 5 for the next few weeks at least. The only racing certainty is that it will not be back to business as usual in the foreseeable future. Many are wondering if we’ll be back to normal at all in 2021.

We all need to recognise how challenging this is for our teams.

For some individuals, a lockdown is a breeze – they love working from home. They have created a very nice working environment and routine for themselves, when based at home. However for many, this is simply not possible.

I bumped into a friend locally at the weekend, he runs an IT department for a major Irish employer. While working from home is fine for him, he spoke of the challenges faced by the younger programmers in his team. These colleagues are used to lots of desk space, three monitors on the go and all of the necessary technological aids. Some of them are now working on laptops on their bed, in shared accommodation. Not a good environment for detailed work.

Can you help your team with their remote working environment? Would the purchase of a small desk help them or what equipment can they take from the office that will help them?

Recognise the challenges that some with younger children face. While the schools are still open this time, children will be around in the afternoons. Also, younger children may be in the house all day, with the inevitable distractions that they can bring.  Be flexible, understand the pressures your team may be under at home and trust them to do their best.

Communication is critical in these times, it is so important for you to stay in touch with your team and to stay visible. Your staff need your leadership now, more so than ever. Agree a regular call – this might be every day, or every second day and use Zoom or MS Teams for team meetings. Keep the team together, just at a distance.

Of course, your business still must deliver the very best service to your clients. This is where both you and your team must step up and deliver in these challenging circumstances. While being flexible, set very clear expectations with your people in terms of their working hours, the outputs you require them to deliver and the level of client interactions you need. This is not a time for your business to go quiet, it requires you and all the team to stay in touch with your clients to reassure them in these difficult days. Your expectations of course should be high, but they must be reasonable.

Your staff are going to see you through these difficult months. Just because they are working remotely from you, never forget that you are one team. Maybe you can’t buy them lunch at the moment, but that’s not to stop you showing your appreciation to them. Consider sending them a small gift to show your gratitude. If this is not possible, ring them and say thanks for their efforts.

You’re the lynchpin of the team, so don’t forget to look after no 1, lots of people need you to stay healthy. Your family, your staff and your clients can ill-afford you to get sick. So, take no chances yourself.

You’re also the leader. Now is the time to stand up and lead from the front. Your staff and your business need this if you want to emerge from these difficult times in the best possible shape.