We are currently facing some very challenging and stressful times. From business closures to travel restrictions, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of our lives. Nearly every business is feeling the effects of this public health crisis in some way or another, and concern about the virus and its risks is becoming palpable in many workplaces. Leading a team remotely can be challenging, and these difficulties are only exacerbated with heightened levels of stress, uncertainty, and isolation. Leaders play a key role in helping to guide and support their team in a compassionate way. Here are some ways to support your team and navigate the challenges of working remotely during the COVID-19 crisis.

Listen to your Team

In times of uncertainty like this one, it is important for you to give your team a safe space to be open and honest about how they feel. You need to acknowledge and seek to understand the challenges, both physical and mental, faced by your team before you can provide them with the adequate support. It may be helpful to schedule regular check-in calls with your team members to ensure they are not feeling overwhelmed or to implement stress surveys to measure stress levels across your team. Mindful listening can have a big impact on your employees’ well-being and, by extension, on their work. 

Be As Flexible As Possible 

In the context of remote working, and especially during a stressful crisis, it is important to embrace flexibility. Everyone on your team has unique life circumstances. Some of your employees may need to take care of loved ones and others may need to take on additional jobs for financial support. It is more important than ever for you to offer your team as much flexibility as you can. This can be through eliminating or adapting an employee’s tasks or by offering them the option to work fewer or odd hours.

Communicate with Your Team Frequently

Communicating clearly and frequently with your employees fosters trust, which is important when working remotely with a team.

Open communication in a time of uncertainty can be incredibly helpful. If you are a leader, you should make an effort to provide your team with clear and reliable information. This can be through sending out weekly updates with resources and verified information, or through organizing regular virtual briefings with your team discussing action plans and key developments.

Provide Digital Tools to Support Your Team’s Mental Health

If you’re in a position to offer such benefits, consider providing your team with external tools to support their wellbeing. Often times, investing in mental health solutions, such as, mindfulness programs or digital counseling platforms, can go a long way. Start by taking a look at online mobile therapy platform Talkspace and meditation app Headspace. Both offer COVID-19-specific resources. 

Take Care of Yourself

Don't forget to also take some time to connect with yourself, whether it be through meditation or mindful journaling. Take care of yourself so that you can better support your team.

Finally, don’t forget that you are also human. In addition to supporting your team, you must also take care of yourself. Remember the airplane rule? Put on your own mask before helping others. As a leader it is important to ensure that you are taking time to prioritize your own well-being. Take time to check in with yourself, establish a solid morning routine, and focus on your mental health. This will ultimately help you better navigate the challenges of the current COVID-19 crisis while working remotely with your team.