Nearly six months into the global pandemic, many individuals and companies are still struggling to find their new normal. While some jobs might require employees to be on-site—whether in the office or out in the field—most insurers have made a fairly smooth transition to remote working. Some are even planning to make the change a long-term or permanent one, while others are considering a flexible, hybrid approach based on job requirements, management style and employee preference and ability.

But whether employees will be in the office or working remotely, it’s up to the company’s leadership to help create the new normal.

Prepare employees for their return to the office.

For employees who will be returning to the workplace, it’s important to prepare them beforehand so they know what to expect, including any physical and cultural changes. Consider providing a floorplan of the office, marked up to show the location of hand washing and sanitizing stations, wipes and masks, where any doors have been removed or plastic partitions added, and whether there’s an official traffic pattern to ensure social distancing.

Be sure to get employee input. Ask workers what will make them feel safe in the workplace. Do they want access to more PPE? Will they feel more comfortable with greater social distancing between desks? More remote work options?

Source: “Your Workers’ Brain on COVID-19: How Leadership Can Restart a Mindful Workplace,” Occupational Health & Safety, June 29, 2020

Trust your team.

Many managers are having trust issues when it comes to remote work—both about their own ability to lead a team remotely and about worker productivity and engagement. This lack of trust often leads to micromanaging, which not only places an extra burden on the supervisor but can also have a detrimental impact on their team.

Employees can sense when a supervisor does not trust their ability to do their work, which can lead to higher levels of anxiety and stress, and sometimes even cause an employee to have doubts about their own abilities. On top of that, micromanaged workers often feel the need to be constantly available, expected to respond to email or phone messages immediately no matter the hour or day. Such close monitoring can cause problems at the best of times; the issue is amplified during the pandemic, when work schedules often conflict with the demands of children and home life.

What can you do?

Train managers to check in with employees rather than check up on them. Teach them to delegate and empower workers to have greater autonomy over their work methods and schedules, which will promote motivation and performance while minimizing stress. Communicate frequently and provide employees with the information, guidance and support they need to work autonomously. Teach managers to focus more on the results of the work than the how or when.

Source: “Remote Managers Are Having Trust Issues,” Harvard Business Review, July 30, 2020