The lack of regular contact with colleagues and interpersonal interaction within teams, as well as with other colleagues may be having a major impact on our self-confidence as well as enthusiasm and motivation. Further, the sense of comradeship, solidarity and also the feedback, opinions as well as at times criticism provided by daily interaction with colleagues are all missing. This lack of external feedback, encouragement and also decreased interpersonal communication all play a role in the results of the work we produce and our performance.
However, we all need to be prepared to face the current circumstances and deal with it effectively, as this is not a temporary short time situation but in fact may continue for a year or two. Many leaders and managers are making an extra effort to improve their remote interaction with their teams to ensure that productivity does not suffer and the objectives of the company are met. But there may be still some room for improvement in the light of long term solutions.
Some key steps Managers can take to help their teams ease into the new way of working is to :
- Ensure that the existing work structure is not disturbed. Continue with your daily routine using the remote tools available, whether by one-to-one calls to individual team members or a group meeting.
- Set clear objectives and expectations for your team in terms of the goals to be met and be available for any required discussions and clarifications. Also have clear communication guidelines so that team members know how and when they can contact you and discuss any matters, if required.
- Be aware of within the team communication and information sharing to ensure that work is progressing smoothly and that the timelines can be met by all members. If any lapses are noted make swift intercessions to bring things back on track.
- Ensure that some social interaction takes place between the team. Managers could spend 10 minutes at the beginning of a weekly meeting to catch up with team mates on their personal activities, celebrate any special events like birthdays, anniversaries etc. This will create a bonding and a feeling of oneness with each other and reduce the feeling of working in isolation.
- Give encouragement and build confidence of the team keeping in view the difficult circumstances being faced by all and also to allay any stress or anxiety they may be feeling in the uncertain times being faced. Also build their confidence by using positive affirmations in your communication to promote self assurance, confidence, poise and a sense of purpose.
- Finally, ensure that the company news or any changes being considered are communicated directly by you to avoid any misconceived news spreading via the grapevine. Due to the uncertain situation employees are already tense and stressed about the future so ensure that job security or otherwise is not a matter of concern and causing anxiety.
Employees on the other hand can also learn to boost their own confidence and be motivated to maintain their performance by :
- Accepting the reality and learning to focus on the here and now, to keep up your performance level. Do not let negative or any catastrophic thinking play on your mind to undermine your confidence and affect your performance. Negative thoughts regarding job security may come to your thoughts, but remember that thinking of such an event will serve no purpose and will have to be dealt with if and when it happens.
- With limited interaction of Managers and colleagues your level of anxiety and stress may be raised. It will be necessary to deal with these and boost your motivation and confidence level by your own actions, to keep moving on and delivering the desired results. You can boost your self confidence by thinking about all the positive actions you are taking to support your team members and other people around you. Positive self talk and thinking also plays agreat role in bucking you up and lifting your spirits.
- In order to receive you have to learn to give. The same principle applies to Positive feedback, so you can develop a habit of contacting your colleagues and even your manager to start the process of feedback and give them positive input. Develop the habit of reaching out to your colleagues and team members at least once a week to share experiences, feedback and give any positive news. Appreciate any support they may have provided to you. This will initiate a process of give and take and you will find others also responding in the same manner. Thus, the feeling of isolation at work will be reduced and you will be more motivated at the job.
- Think of all the positives of working from home and learn to appreciate them. These may include, no wasting of commute time and energy. More time to spend at home after work so that you can utilize it with your family. Maybe having the opportunity to focus on a hobby or interest being confined at home etc.
- It is also essential to find the space and time to do some physical activity, be it a morning walk or jog or exercise. Releasing the feeling of goodness and relaxing yourself will help you to perform well. Practicing some simple meditation techniques also play a very positive role in your health.
For many of us the feeling of reduced physical proximity as well as emotional connectivity of the workplace may create a feeling of isolation and loss, but rising up to the occasion and being positive by not letting it undermine our motivation and confidence will stand us in good stead in the long run. It will also increase our sense of worth and self respect which will lead to maintaining our performance on the job.