Over the past couple of months, as the world adjusts to a new way of working, I’ve seen plenty of articles and webinars for managers on how to lead and manage a workforce that is now working from home.  Great advice on how to keep teams motivated, engaged, healthy and productive.  I think this is brilliant.  For people who haven’t previously worked from home, and managers who haven’t managed remote teams before, this advice is important and helpful.

But, what about those now at home, but not working from home?

In addition to the heart-breaking decision to retrench staff, many businesses, large and small have stood down (furloughed) all, or parts of their workforce to help the business get through this time and hopefully out the other side.

Whilst I expect most who have been stood down understand the necessity and the bigger picture – not taking a salary so that hopefully everyone can take one again in the future – you could say their role is the hardest of all.  Sit this out (hopefully with access to government support) until things get better.

Are you ensuring they feel cared for, supported and important during this tough time?  If you’re a manager of a team that has been stood down, or a leader or business owner who has had to stand down all or some of your people, what are you doing to ensure their wellbeing, supporting good mental health, and keeping morale up during this time?

One of the key recommendations in managing remote teams is around good, regular communication, and this holds true for a stood down team.

How you do this will vary depending on the size of the workforce stood down, your company culture and so on.

I know of mid-size businesses engaging with their people through Friday night drinks and other regular get-togethers, even team challenges and projects, via Zoom.

For larger businesses it can be as simple as a regular (weekly, fortnightly) email newsletter out to staff with an update on what is happening in the business, any changes being made, an update on the market outlook, thanking them for their ongoing support, anything to stay connected.   Be honest.  Be as transparent as possible – share scenario planning you’re doing for the future.  Is there any certainty you can share in this uncertain time?

Are you providing all the information required to assist them to gain any government support?  Are you aware of, and sharing, work opportunities in other parts of your industry or other industries if they’re interested?

Is there training and development opportunities that you can offer or recommend that won’t impact your bottom line but provide mental stimulus and future benefits?

If your company provides access to counselling services, ensure your people are aware of this and how to access.

Help your people to stay connected and able to support each other by setting up a closed Facebook page (with rules and guidelines to ensure it’s a safe, supportive environment), WhatsApp group or similar.

As a manager don’t forget to check in with your team one-on-one to ensure they’re doing okay.  How are they holding up?  Is there anything you can do to support them? The frequency will depend on each person, some will want more contact, others less.  Fit the contact level to meet the employee’s style and current state of mind.

Whilst these are difficult and unprecedented times for everyone and we’re all learning as we go, there are people out there doing great things and sharing what they’re doing with others.  Tap into the knowledge and expertise being shared both in your own support networks and more widely across the many social platforms in place today.

If you’ve got some tips on how you’re staying connected with your stay at home teams (both working and stood down) please share them.

Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash