How has COVID-19 changed the business world? How will teams adapt to the “new normal” as they return to the office or continue teleworking? Many leaders are asking themselves the same questions. Here are three ways that managers can balance the impact of COVID-19 with business needs.

Rethink Telework

Traditionally, many leaders have opposed teleworking, citing the need for face-to-face collaboration and communication. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations to hone their teleworking processes, move meetings onto mobile platforms and reconsider work-life balance for many employees. According to a recent study from the OECD, teleworking has led to an increase in productivity. Leaders with a focus on long-term strategy will consider ways to offer partial or full-time teleworking to employees.

Support Staff

The pandemic has added a layer of worry to every employee’s life, whether it’s concerned with personal health, financial well-being, or childcare. Even the most steadfast of staff have likely struggled with the impact of COVID-19 at some point. Strong leaders will demonstrate emotional intelligence and provide emotional support that may have seemed unprofessional before the pandemic began. By encouraging employees to open up about how staying home has impacted their working life, leaders open the door for conversations to adjusting workloads to improve the company’s bottom line and the staff’s well-being. For example, managers may approve split shifts, where employees perform work throughout the day or are more flexible with leave requests.

Plan for Post-Pandemic Life

With vaccination rates spiking and social distancing requirements lessening, the working world may return to semi-normal at some point, but the aftereffects of COVID will linger. Future job applicants may ask how the company handled the pandemic or why telework has not been incorporated into the open position. Clients may push for in-person services before staff feels comfortable offering them. A good leader should anticipate these issues, whether that means adding a page to the company website, creating a plan for in-person meetings, or simply setting aside more time for meeting directly with employees.

Leaders must carefully consider the psychological impact of COVID-19 on employees, clients, and applicants or risk alienating their teams. Post-COVID, managers will need more emotional intelligence than ever before.