April 21, 2020
Managing a 100% virtual workforce for the very first time is uncharted territory for most. While some in the vacation rental industry are more prepared than others it is safe to say that we are all looking for ways to keep our teams motivated and engaged so we are ready when travel resumes. Here are a few tips to maintain culture and lead your employees through COVID-19.
1. Maintain Normalcy
As much as possible it is important to maintain the structure you had in place when you were in the office. If you had weekly meetings or afternoon stand-ups make sure you are continuing to hold them on the same days and times virtually. In times of uncertainty people naturally crave structure so providing as much normalcy in the new virtual workplace as you can helps employees maintain the stability they need.
2. Use Video
Utilizing meeting platforms with video is a must in the virtual workplace. Require that everyone turn on their cameras during your meetings. It may seem trivial, but when trying to maintain a company culture video will help employees feel connected and will also hold them accountable to not just show up but to be engaged and participate. It is imperative that as a member of leadership your team sees you and hears you on a regular basis so make sure you are reaching out to employees daily even if it’s just for a brief chat to see how they are doing.
4. Laugh & Be Kind
People handle change in their own way, but everyone needs an escape including you. Bring laughter and fun into your meetings as much as possible. Find or create new events to keep your team in high spirits. Many are finding working from home is at times more stressful than working in the office. Providing structure does not mean you can’t mix things up. Employers from around the world are getting creative with surprise half days and flexible Fridays to show employees they know times are hard and all their efforts are appreciated. Work-life balance is still important. Encourage employees to engage in virtual happy hours and take time off when they need to just like they did at the office.
4. Be Transparent
No one can know the perfect strategy to get your team through this time but maintaining transparency and open lines of communication will define how your employees’ function on a day to day basis. As a leader, you are the best person to keep your employees informed on how the company is doing and what steps are being taken to bring everyone out on the other side of the pandemic. Give as much information as possible during team meetings to provide peace of mind. Inform staff of things like what aid you are and are not eligible for, economic updates, and things you are hearing from other leaders in the industry. It is also good to respond to questions with “I don’t know” when you don’t. Maintaining trust is paramount and not knowing all the answers is ok.
5. Be Accountable & Expect Accountability
Just as employees are accountable to you, you are accountable to your employees. Check-in and assure your team you are just a phone call or a chat away. If you have downsized make sure work has been spread around. This is a good time to audit your technology stack, eliminate what is not helping and look for tools that will. If employees or departments are overloaded get involved in pushing back deadlines. Make expectations for all projects and tasks known. Trust that you have established a great team and remove obstacles as they come up. One study tells us that if all interruptions were eliminated, workers would reclaim 3 to 5 hours every day, which could mean an increase in productivity of 40-60% in the average workday. Utilize this time to make every minute count for your company and your employees.
See our related articles for more tips to help you through these uncertain times.