Over the last few months, remote working has been the new normal. For many businesses it was a drastic change to everyday routines and daily lives.
While initially dropping the daily commute and performing Teams calls in pyjamas might have been a dream, the weeks and months truly have stretched on.
Naturally, some people have thrived! But we can’t ignore the fact that the transition from usual routines to managing in the climate we’ve been faced with during the coronavirus pandemic has presented ups and downs for every personality type. For this reason, it’s good for employers to be aware of how people respond and flex to stay motivated and productive during the coronavirus pandemic.
The two personality traits to look out for
Two personality traits that have been used in psychology for decades are
- Autonomy – how well an individual works independently without supervision; and
- Emotional stability – how well someone respond to challenges and changing circumstances
You might already have recognised the emotional stability of your employees based on the way they dealt with the changes you had to implement during the coronavirus crisis and the necessity for everyone to work from home, when they could.
For those with low emotional stability, consistent support and communication is essential. It’s up to leaders within the business to schedule regular telephone or video calls to ensure that employees feel that they have a support network, and that they know senior leaders and business owners are there to help them with any challenges they’re still overcoming.
It’s important to acknowledge the impact of these changes. Patience and understanding are important, both towards work and towards colleagues and clients. You might be required to step in and help create a new routine or working structure for those employees that are currently feeling overwhelmed.
Daily team calls, along with regular one-to-ones and even ‘off-work’ team get-togethers will go a long way to improving emotional resilience at this time. If you are thinking of making changes to schedules, working structure or introducing the possibility of going back to the offices, ensure that these changes are communicated clearly and consistently and encourage the team to share any worries or concerns they have with the proposed changes.
While those who possess high emotional stability are likely to respond well to consistent communication, you may have noticed that they haven’t suffered drastically without and pretty much will have taken the change of working conditions and location in their stride.
Remote working requires people to spend time disconnected from co-workers. This is both in a physical sense but also on a deeper, emotional level.
Working from home means that employees will need to use their initiative, make decisions and work independently on many tasks. A strong sense of autonomy and the ability to work alone is vital. Without these skills and behavioural traits, working from home can be a challenge.
Some of your team members will naturally possess confidence, accountability and ownership, feeling self-assured in decision making and being proactive. It’s likely they demonstrate an ability to self-motivate, too.
Others, however, may be of a more nervous or uncertain nature. You can identify these employees by behaviours such as asking for input when it comes to decision making, worrying about making mistakes and finding difficulty in prioritising workload and self-motivating.
To combat a lack of autonomy, company culture can play a significant and important role. A culture that empowers your employees to make mistakes without fear of reprimand is crucial. This provides comfort in taking initiative and making decisions without feeling the need to seek approval. Instilling confidence and reiterating the importance of celebrating your successes can help kickstart self-motivation and productivity levels.
Encouraging employees to take time to focus on learning and self-development can also play a role in improving autonomy and confidence.
As the likelihood of continued working from home stretches ahead before us, we hope this guidance helps you identify ways you can support your whole team, whichever side of the coin they fall on.