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COVID-19: Working Remotely – Tips for Team Leaders

This job aid provides tips to help team leaders manage team members who are working remotely during an emergency situation.

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During a crisis such as COVID-19, work teams often find themselves working quickly and outside of their normal routine. It is essential that managers and team members alike keep the lines of communication open for optimal engagement, productivity and morale.

Focus on people

  • Develop a strong sense of purpose. Build and sustain an environment of trust by communicating consistently and often to create a sense of team.

Be transparent and honest

  • Be consistent with your words and actions.
  • Lead honestly and openly. You will find that team members respond with trust.

Build team relationships

  • Organize virtual team meetings regularly and help team members get to know each other on a human level.
  • Facilitate weekly "water cooler" chats to create a team culture.

Give goals and direction

  • Provide a clear purpose to bring focus, clarity and a shared context to virtual teams.
  • Share a common vision that focuses on the team's mission, goals and objectives by continually realigning people to emerging priorities.

Empower the team

  • Clearly set out the desired results while letting individual team members decide how best to achieve them.
  • Convey your trust. This will foster team members' sense of ownership in their work.

Motivate the team

  • Motivate by creating passion for the team's cause and by keeping the big picture at the forefront.
  • Be clear about the importance of the tasks and their positive outcomes.

Provide feedback

  • Use various techniques like coaching and regular consultation to provide timely feedback to your team members.

Exercise flexible leadership

  • Early on, you may need to use your motivational skills. Later, you may need to keep team members on-task and focused. Be flexible and willing to let others take the lead when necessary.
Remember, relationships are based on trust, respect, purpose, empowerment and accountability.

We thank the Public Health Agency of Canada for sharing much of this advice.

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