During these unprecedented times…. Man, has that phrase been worn out this year!
I don’t know about you, but I miss precedented times. In fact, precedented times seem like some great past nostalgia, like TV dinners or the Tiger King (remember him? That was THIS year).
There is a lot of unknown right now. As a business owner, you may be navigating decisions you’ve never had to make before- and so is your team. Here are a few simple things you can implement immediately to alleviate the pressure and care for them in the chaos.
Provide Flexible Scheduling
Maintaining a standard 9 to 5 right now feels impossible- and for many people, it truly is. Parents are trying to manage at-home childcare with no clear end date while working in a new environment and adapting to a new set of challenges. Whew! And for those of us who aren’t parents, the strains are there too- the weight of concern about the future, everyday life tasks are now accompanied by serious ethical questions, and our friends and family face economic and health uncertainty. The heat is on. If you have the ability to relax the work schedule for your team, give it a try. Our team has a few “core hours,” each day where we’re all at our computers and responsive, but other than that, we work on a project and deadline basis, providing the team flexibility to work when we can be most productive, be present for our families, and keep our own selves healthy in the process.
Create spaces for openness
No matter how much we wish they were separate, our personal lives always affect our professional ones. Gone are the days where we can pretend we are robots with no life outside of our jobs. Instead of avoiding or hiding what’s going on outside of work, it can be more healthy (and more productive) to create places for our teams to share about what they’re facing- the good and the bad. During our weekly team calls, our team shares about everything from the new TV shows we’re hooked on and the books we’re reading, to the health of our families, to major news events, and the fears we have about the future. Sharing can be handled responsibly in a way that doesn’t overstep boundaries, but also allows us to be honest about what we’re bringing to the table each week, and how it’s affecting our work. More than ever, we need to be able to have hard conversations with one another. Establish that it’s ok to talk about difficult things. It will be uncomfortable. We won’t always get it right. But it’s important to create a space for conversation about the issues our country and world are facing.
Minimize Zoom calls and keep them to a set schedule
Zoom fatigue is REAL! Ashby & Gabriel has always been a remote agency, even before COVID, and Zoom is a key platform for our connectedness and workflow. But it can be easy to get into a groove of scheduling a meeting for everything, which creates fatigue and disrupts productivity. Before you schedule a Zoom call, ask yourself, could I communicate this in a quick email? If not, maybe a short phone call instead of another video conference is the way to go. We’ve found that the best way to utilize Zoom internally is for scheduled meetings at consistent times each week- that way, we can plan out our days knowing when we’ll be on camera, and create blocks of non-Zoom time for deep work.
Be honest about the state of the business
The state of work everywhere is uncertain at the moment. Some businesses are just scraping by, and preparing to cut costs in the next quarter. Others are flourishing in this new environment. One of the most pressing anxieties for people at the moment is uncertainty. As a business owner, you can do your best to mitigate that by letting your team know where things stand. They don’t need to know the nitty gritty or hear you vent about your own fears for the businesses’ future, but concise, clear, and consistent updates can do a lot to alleviate anxiety. Let your team know what’s going well, and what’s not, what you know, and what you don’t know.
Working from home has given us windows into each other’s lives like never before! Dogs barking during conference calls, babies crying, the mess on your desk you didn’t quite hide before you turned on your camera. We’re all trying really, really hard, and we’re all under a lot of pressure. Take opportunities to celebrate each other’s humanness. Toddler wanders into the call? Pause for a minute and make a peekaboo face! A little laughter and levity is good for all of us. And we’re all facing these stresses in one way or another, so take moments to celebrate and acknowledge the chaos. When else would you have met your co-worker’s dog? Or seen the photos they have up on their home office wall? The more grace we offer each other for disruptions, the more grace we can allow ourselves too, when everything inevitably boils over.
The only way out is through. And we’re all finding our way through together. Have an idea for work culture during these…ahem…unprecedented times? Send me an email- I’d love to chat. email@example.com