Remote working has become so commonplace in recent months that it’s constantly referred to as the ‘new normal’. However, for some of your staff, the keyword in that phrase is new – and working from home doesn’t feel ‘normal’ at all. Similarly, even those employees who’ve worked from home in the past aren’t accustomed to doing so for long periods. In one way or another, this is uncharted territory for all of us.

For this reason, your employees will need some time to adjust to their new remote working conditions. The good news, however, is that this adjustment period can be shortened and made easier with the right support and encouragement. So, with that in mind, here are some tips for supporting your employees while they’re working from home

Be empathetic

The first, and best, method of supporting your employees is to empathise with them as fully as possible. Whether it’s concern for the welfare of our families, what the future holds, or just our own wellbeing, every one of us is a little worried about something right now – and understandably so. By finding out more about your employees’ present circumstances, you’ll get a clearer picture of their state of mind, how it might affect their performance at work, and how you can best support them.

The most important element of empathising with your staff is to simply listen to them. Ask how they are feeling and carefully listen to their replies. From there, ask if there’s anything you can do to help and then offer support wherever possible. You won’t be able to solve all of their problems but just listening to them is powerful in and of itself and goes a long way to making your staff feel supported and valued.

Check-in with staff, but don’t micromanage

Regularly check-in with your employees, but resist the urge to micromanage them. Although this may get a particular task finished faster, in the long-term, you’ll prevent them from becoming more competent and adaptable. What’s more, it takes up time better spent elsewhere, which includes helping staff that need your actually need your support.

One of the best ways to check in on staff without being overbearing is establishing a set time you check in with them – be it daily, weekly, or somewhere in-between. From their perspective, your checking-in won’t be seen as prying or a lack of faith in their abilities. Plus, you’ll be less tempted to intervene every time they’re not as productive as you’d like or when you think they’re struggling.

Help employees create a dedicated workspace

A dedicated workspace is a vital element of remote working because it creates separation between a person’s work and home life. However, some of your employees, having never worked at home, may not know how to create a workspace that maximises their productivity and may end up just working from their sofa – or even from bed!

In order to safeguard their physical and mental wellbeing over the long-term, its necessary to set up a proper workspace where they’re both comfortable and can work with minimal distractions.

To best help them, get as clear a picture of their living situation – perhaps via a quick tour on a video call. You can then make suggestions on how they can best make use of their space, taking things like lighting and ergonomics into account. Even the smallest suggestion could make all the difference to their comfort and, consequently, their performance.

Allow time for casual chat in team calls

In your team calls, leave a little time for casual chat and catching up. This is best done at the beginning of a call so everyone can enjoy catching up with their workmates before getting down to business. This is especially important for those employees who are more isolated than others and miss the company of their colleagues.

Now, the danger in doing this is that everyone gets caught up in seeing the social aspect of the call and less work gets done. To combat this, be clear that you’re going to have a quick 5-minute chat and then you can assertively change gears when you need to.

Schedule in fun, team events

As well as your formal meetings, schedule in enjoyable, virtual, team-building events. These could include a team lunch, a quiz, pre-weekend drinks, or anything else that brings you all together and enjoying each other’s company.