With COVID-19 mostly contained within Australia, many of us are settling into a new normal – otherwise referred to as “COVID-Normal”. Many people are going back into the office for the first time in months while others are continuing to work from home (WFH). Some students are back on campus while others continue to do distance learning. While it’s exciting to be going back to any semblance of normal, we are once again entering a space of the unknown. Now more than ever, it is important for leaders to understand the importance of the individual worker and their needs. Below are 5 great tips on how to effectively lead through the new COVID-Normal.
Continue to Offer Your Employees a WFH Option
This year, many people have experienced what it’s like to WFH for the first time. Employees were made to completely restructure their whole routines, remove the work-life separation and in many cases, just get on with it. Many businesses only survived because of the willingness of employees to adapt to their new working conditions. To reward their effort and adaptability, leaders should continue to offer employees the option of WFH going forward. This pandemic has proven that an employees physical presence in an office is not as necessary as many previously thought. With video conference calls, online file sharing and team management systems, a worker can do a lot from the comfort of their own home. There are also many added benefits of WFH: not having to get dressed up, no commute to the office, ability to cook lunch at home, more time with loved ones, fewer distractions from colleagues, and more. Being flexible about where your employees work could really have a significant positive impact on your employee’e engagement and your organisational culture. Many people looking for jobs will now favour positions that offer flexible working options, especially while COVID is still around.
Offer Flexible Working Hours Where You Can
Especially if you do have people Working From Home, a great way to engage with the individual worker is to offer them flexible working hours. This means if they are not needed between 9am-5pm, let them choose when they do their work. Some people work best in the early morning, others late in the evening. Allowing employees autonomy over when they complete their hours throughout the week can be daunting for many leaders, especially those with micromanaging tendencies. It can be scary to let go of our engrained 9-5 mindset, but many people will actually be more productive, more efficient and be happier if they can choose when they’re doing the work. This also allows for flexibility with other commitments the person may have, such as caring for children or social engagements. This gives your employees the ability to choose how to integrate work into their life as opposed to trying to squeeze in their life around work. 
Offer Your Employees Training
This year has been difficult in some way for everyone, and some people may be feeling alienated from others, distant from their old life and anxious about the future. Now that we have entered COVID-Normal, it is so important to offer your employees any extra help they may need in ‘getting back to normal’ if you have not already been doing so. Training in areas such as resilience, mental health, team communication, adaptability, and emotional intelligence will give your employees the tools to build up these areas in their personal and professional lives. Many training providers (including us) now offer online training as well as face-to-face options so no matter where your team is, they can receive the training they need. 
Offer Your Employees Coaching
In a similar fashion to training, coaching could be beneficial for either yourself or your team. Coaching offers a more personalised option for those who could use more specific guidance, especially for those who have gone through or are thinking about undergoing major life change. Executive coaching can focus on developing an individual’s: 
  • leadership skills
  • emotional intelligence
  • resilience and stress management
  • business strategies and innovative thinking
  • teamwork skills
  • “true purpose”
  • program and project management skills.
This will again increase employee engagement by making the employee feel valued by the company enough to be individually developed and up-skilled. The benefits for your company will be dedicated employees with a better mindset and skillset.
Organise Some Fun Team-Building Activities
It’s been a stressful year, and everyone could afford to blow off a bit of steam. It’s important to show your employees that you appreciate the hard work they have been putting in. Especially if your team has been working remotely this year, you might want to organise something fun for all of them to do together that will make the team feel stronger and more connected. COVID-Normal obviously has restrictions around how many people can gather in groups and what kind of activities they can do. For larger teams, you’ll likely have to do something socially distanced outdoors or online, but that doesn’t mean the experience has to be sub-par. Especially as Australia enters the summer months, having a socially distanced team trivia in the park could be one option, or even a water fight. You could also start a remote group fitness challenge to raise money for a cause each group cares deeply about. You can even do online murder mystery parties these days. Whatever you choose doesn’t matter much, but make sure its fun and will bring your team closer together. If you could use a few more suggestions, we recommend these articles: 45 Outdoor Team Building Activity Ideas for Work Groups by Outback Team Building 10 COVID-Friendly Engaging Games for Team Building by Engage for Success If you or any of your employees need help at the moment, please do no hesitate to reach out to us! We offer a wide range of training, coaching, retreats and e-learning options that could benefit you and your company. If you would like to speak to one of our team, email us at learn@magicallearning.com or call us on (+61) 2 6944 8200. Have a magical day!