In the last few weeks there have been signs from both Federal and State Governments that Australia may soon start to emerge from the worst of the Covid-19 crisis. While there’s still much uncertainty – and no guarantee there won’t be more twists and turns – the roadmap for the easing of restrictions in coming months makes it an entirely prudent time for business managers to start thinking about how best to help their teams return to ‘normal’ when the time comes.
What is normal?
The first thing to do is try and form an understanding of what ‘normal’ will actually mean. What might a post-Covid19 world look like for your business and your workforce? This is no small task.
Of course, one thing the future will almost certainly involve is a range of additional workplace health and safety measures. But hand sanitiser, lift quotas and socially distanced desks are only small parts of a much bigger picture. Succeeding under your ‘new normal’ may require you to re-establish, redefine or even completely rewrite expectations that have shifted. Rebuilding disjointed client relationships is another task likely to require urgent attention. As is understanding changes to the behaviour of your competitors and, perhaps most critically, assessing any lingering psychological impacts on your team members and suppliers.
All of these areas, and many more no doubt, will need to be carefully considered well before forming any concrete idea of what your new ‘normal’ will be. So it’s best to get the wheels turning right now if you can, so you can hit the ground running.
Turning specifically to your team, there are several things to be especially mindful of. As has been well analysed in the media in recent months – and by ourselves – spending such an extend period away from the office working remotely will have affected different employees in different ways, both positive and negative. For example, it’s highly likely some of your team may be very keen to keep working from home, at least in some capacity. Can this work? Or, perhaps more importantly, how can you make it work especially for key team members you don’t want to lose?
Another very real potential challenge could be re-engaging team members who’ve lost their usual focus and intensity, having spent long periods away from the energy of face-to-face team meetings and projects. How can you help them regain their motivation? One of the best strategies will likely be to quickly re-establish clear routines that bring your team/s together in positive and collaborative settings. Your creativity will be rewarded here.
Flexibility is everything.
Covid-19 has already presented the world with one of its greatest tests of resilience since WW2 – and this no doubt will continue long after offices have reopened and the economy starts whirring back to life. The key is to stay the course. Keep doing what you’ve been doing. Stay vigilant. Keep communicating. Be flexible. Lead with optimism and energy. But, above all, have empathy. Lots and lots of empathy.