The years 2020 & 2021 seem to be the years that are full of challenges not only in the Philippines but all over the world. Starting from the forest fires in Australia in 2020, a volcanic eruption here in the Philippines, to the emergence of the COVID-19 virus worldwide.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 hit many sectors of life. Here in the Philippines, for example, this pandemic has had an impact on changing patterns of our project activities and the way that we work. We were forced to work remotely for 2 months when the government announced the lockdown. Though working from home is not new to Limitless Connect employees because we highly encourage our employees to value time with families and important things in life outside of work, we go onsite only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Since we have worked 60% remotely over a year, here are some of the best practices that we do to keep each other mentally healthy during these are tough times.
Prioritize The Team’s Well-being
Never overlook someone’s mental health. Beyond the isolation that many of us feel when working remotely, the pandemic has also taken a serious toll on our mental health. While there’s only so much I can do in terms of addressing others’ mental health, as a Project Manager and host of meetings, I always make sure that our meetings end early so I can frequently check in with my team members to see how they are doing, listen to their concerns, and answer their questions. Small talk works big wonders. I also monitor their tasks and ensure that no one is overworked. Many employees during this pandemic are now doing the work of three or more people. They’re doing their own jobs, their childcare worker’s jobs, and their children’s teacher’s jobs.
Have Time For Team Bonding
Many of my friends, including me, who are working remotely feel isolated and disoriented in this new work reality. That's why it's important to build connections with your team and coworkers. One of my colleagues, EJ Garcia, scheduled an after-work meeting where anyone can join and just talk about anything under the sun. This approach makes my day lighter and serves as a reminder to me that I am not an island working alone.
Be Organized & Allow Flexible Schedules
When it comes to working with remote teams, the key is to allow flexible hours to maintain consistency, although a concrete plan is a must, always be open to adjusting strategies as needed. Whether your team chooses to put in their hours in the morning or evening, that should not be an issue, as long as the work gets completed and is of high quality.
Do Not Micro-Manage
You shouldn't have to be looking over your team's shoulders while they're in the office, so you shouldn't have to do it when they're remote, either. Working remotely can be so draining and before I became a project manager, I know how it feels to be micromanaged. It DOES not feel good. One of the negative effects of micromanaging to me is poor mental wellbeing. So, always trust that if your team is communicating clearly and meeting goals and deadlines, that’s a great sign that they are being productive and doing their jobs effectively.
Be More Considerate and Patient
Remote work does not work for everyone. I have friends struggling with this type of setup. Some are struggling to stay focused and get work done especially parents with small children who are experiencing the worst of it. Some employees are also living independently and may need to wake up way too early because of the long lines in groceries here in Manila. Be considerate. It’s okay if someone is in a meeting with a baby talking or laughing in the background, keep in mind that they do not need to apologize for that as this is expected. There are team members that may not have anything to share or may not have completed a task and that is perfectly acceptable. My job as a project manager is to relay and communicate changed expectations to our customers and clients and trust me, they are more understanding, especially now.
Before the pandemic, there were ways in which the way we worked wasn’t working. When change is required, it frequently leads to meaningful improvements in areas that were neglected during easier times. We’re all hoping that the pandemic will end as soon as possible. But in the meantime, we have this opportunity to rebuild our workplace around trust, flexibility, empathy, and care for our team member’s health and well-being. I once read and believed the statement that goes, “The organizations who rise to the occasion will be the ones who come out stronger than before.”
Written by: Johnny Alcantara