Business guide to Coronavirus

The importance of transparency in times of crisis for your employees 

Many organisations are asking their employees to work remotely to help slow down the spread of COVID-19 and to preserve the health and safety of their people. The change in working creates a new set of challenges for managers to support and stay connected with their new remote workforce.

Have your remote 'champions' share their story

Many businesses have had to shift to remote working almost overnight. For some, working from home will be a new phenomenon and shifting an entire division or business to a remote environment can trigger a shockwave of change. 

To help make the transition easier, start by evaluating current managers and colleagues who are already working remotely. Encourage them to share their stories and nuances. They should serve as go-to resources to those who will inevitably have questions.

Be transparent about your plans

With Coronavirus uncertainty and spiking anxiety, one thing managers do have control over is being completely clear on company goals and guidelines. 

Use chat tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams to openly discuss issues and be honest with employees about what's going on in the business.  

Have a communication plan

Consider creating an always-on video conference room per team, where team members can hang-out and come and go as they please. 

This simulation enables team members to embrace the shift to remote in a less jarring way. It also shows intentionality around informal communication — an important element that occurs spontaneously in an office and needs an immediate replacement in a remote setting.

Whatever your current view on transparency, leaders should not hold back during this time. It's vital to maintain perspective through this shift. Everyone reacts to remote work differently, and not all homes are ideal workspaces. This can (and likely will) feel jarring, and team members will expect frequent updates as leaders iterate on their communication plan in real-time.

Build trust with employees 

A foundation of trust is critical to any well-functioning remote team. For employees to be engaged in their roles and productive in remote work situations, there must be a level of mutual trust between the managers and employees. 

There are more opportunities to naturally build trust during informal interactions with employees who are physically in the office. With remote teams, these opportunities don't necessarily exist, so managers need to be even more intentional about building team trust. 

According to Gartner, employees at high trust organisations experience 106% more energy when working, 50% better productivity and 76% higher engagement. Managers can build trust around their management of the team by being transparent and sharing information openly as much as possible. 

This will make sure employees feel they are kept in the loop and not caught off guard if unexpected information arises. Managers can also build trust by recognising the accomplishments and abilities of the team. This builds trust by demonstrating awareness of individual talents within the team and showing that the team's contributions are valued. 

Create team transparency 

Transparency is a prerequisite for high-performing teams. According to Gartner research, employees are primarily on board with increasing transparency in the workplace — 71% of employees say their employers should increase their transparency — but working on a remote team can strain to achieve a transparent team environment. 

Without open communication channels, employees might not feel comfortable reaching out to one another or their manager. This places a big challenge on managers to set an example of transparency, sharing openly with employees and encouraging them to always feel comfortable sharing their thoughts or asking questions. 

Managers should also build transparency around individual strengths and weaknesses on the team to encourage employees to share their skills. 

Over to you

The world of work has changed and companies are navigating new challenges, one of which is how to adapt and manage remote work. Some organisations are offering limited work from home for the first time, while others have gone 100% remote for the first time. In times of isolation, it is so important to be consistent and remain transparent in all forms of communication.

Catherine Ngo

Senior Editor and Content Writer – My Business

Catherine is passionate about unravelling the latest news and insights to help entrepreneurs, small business owners and employers.

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