The recent events of the COVID-19 pandemic have forced nearly every organization to work entirely remote, and ours was no exception. What I’ve learned is that this shift we’re experiencing means different things for organizations and their people. 

For some, it means an indefinite pause or an immediate stop. For others, it means business as usual or new opportunities. But for everyone, it means massive change.

As an organization, we quickly adapted by implementing the necessary technology, tools, and procedures to operate fully isolated. But once all of the logistics were in place to handle the everyday operations, I started to think about our staff. How would we keep our team in the loop and ensure they felt prepared, included and safe?

So although the everyday logistics are important, crucial even, we chose to take intentional steps to prioritize the well-being of our people just as much, if not more, and we knew that the well-being of our business would organically follow suit. 

Maintain Transparent Contact from a High Level

We are constantly communicating with the team in a way that’s honest about the current situation yet hopeful for what’s to come. Every week, at minimum, our CEO personally reaches out and sends an update to all of our employees to ensure they feel secure, informed and important. Then every day, he touches base with individual team leaders to offer guidance on specific issues or goals, while I reach out to all employees to reinforce that should anyone need anything business-related or otherwise, that we are available to offer support in any way we can. We want to make certain that our employees know that we are all in this together.

Work hard, Play hard

We utilize platforms that were originally intended for only work as a place to play now, too. We use our Slack channel to share photos of the view outside, our children, our pets or our favorite coffee mug. We encourage employees to share quotes or jokes, too. We have a weekly Zoom happy hour, and our involvement is growing every week. Platforms that were once used to discuss strictly work-related issues, are now also used to celebrate friendship, silly moments, birthdays, anniversaries, life events and work accomplishments, and everyone from every level is involved—yes, even our CEO responded to a lip sync battle video challenge!

Lead With Empathy Toward Others—and Yourself

As a leader, I’ve learned that one of the most critical yet possibly most undervalued traits is empathy. And I don’t just mean empathy to others, but also empathy toward myself. I know that I can’t check in with others if I haven’t checked in with myself. Just as it’s okay for employees to feel overwhelmed, worried or sad, I’ve come to understand that it’s also okay for leaders to feel those ways, too. I’ve come to realize that leaders like myself must be willing to dial back on ambition during times like this to allow everyone the space to focus on mental health. To show our employees that their overall well-being is a priority to us during this time, I try to lead by example by showing them that my own mental health is a priority, too, by setting proper boundaries and being honest about my needs.

Embrace The Rarity of Now

It is such a beautiful thing to be able to get a glimpse into our teammates’ lives and see their personalities come out in a way that we may have never had the opportunity to discover otherwise. Let us enjoy the moments when our innocent children bombard our video conference calls on a daily basis. Let us laugh it off if a teammate’s bedhead is extra goofy one day. Moments like these during this unfathomable situation remind us that, at the core, we are all the same: humans just trying to do a job well-done and take care of ourselves and our families.