The COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous economic volatility and many workers are struggling to adjust to social distancing and remote work all while keeping up office morale. Managers also face new challenges as they adjust to effectively lead offsite teams while also providing support for individual team members in the office.

Managing remote teams is challenging enough if you don’t have a reliable Employee Assistance Program (EAP) : But with world events causing additional stress and life changes for everyone, traditional leadership tactics may need to be put aside to maintain a cohesive team. What can leaders do to maintain team morale while also keeping productivity in mind?

Don’t overwhelm your Employees

Research shows that employees feel overwhelmed and unproductive during the uncertain climate of the business world, especially now during the pandemic. With new pressures and anxieties weighing down on employees, it can be tougher than ever for workers to accomplish basic tasks let alone have any office morale.

Make sure you’re not overwhelming your employees by asking them to accomplish more than their regular workload. In fact, if you can remove some of their workload, you should.

Establish a foundation

Office morale reflects the confidence team members have in their leaders and their mission, as well as the overall enthusiasm they bring to their work. This confidence starts with preparedness and having the right foundation in place – including collaboration tools and a new strategy for how meetings and work will be conducted.

Without the convenience of in-person meetings and check-ins, strive to make virtual meetings as seamless as possible. When shifting to remote work, be prepared to increase communication with team members.

Keep Your Employees Connected

The shift to remote work can leave employees feeling isolated due to the lack of human interaction they would normally experience in-office. The best way to combat feelings of isolation and increase morale is by keeping employees connected. Make communication easy for them.

This should include a combination of formal and informal communication methods. Making the switch effectively requires clear communication and instruction, role clarity, and camaraderie. Moving to video conferencing is a must; it will make meetings feel more personable and provide a level of transparency that traditional conference lines lack.

Gamification

If you are unsure of what gamification is, it’s essentially a way to make normal business tasks seem like fun games for employees to play. The more engaging and fun the tasks seem, the more employees will want to complete them. Some ways you can try gamification at your company include:

  • Trivia Challenges

See who knows the most about the company history, business goals, or product. Do trivia daily or weekly to spark engagement and interest across the company.

  • Friendly Competitions

Set up friendly competitions to see who hits goals or gets the most work completed in a week. There are many ways to set up healthy competition at your company. Just make sure that remote games and activities are interactive and involved. You can even include prizes like e-gift cards to encourage participation!

  • Remote Power Hours

Set aside time on the calendar to all join and work on the same task or project. See who can get the most work done in a single hour. Get everyone together, shut off all other communication and distractions, and let the power hour begin.

Practice makes perfect

Working during the pandemic whether in the office or remotely is a new reality for much of the workforce these days. As a leader, it’s important for you to be patient with yourself and your teams. Practice makes perfect, and as time goes on, work will become more seamless.

There will certainly be bumps along the way, but if you enter this new way of work with clear intentions and a deep understanding of the needs of each team member, you can feel confident that you will all come out of this situation stronger.