8 Critical Stress Management Tips for Leading Remote Teams

Are you leading a remote team during the COVID pandemic? These 8 stress management tips will help you and your team cope with stress and anxiety.


The Covid-19 pandemic has forced a lot of work environments to transition from in-person to fully remote. All in a short period of time, and often without any prior experience.


This is a steep learning curve. But at this point, many teams have been working remotely for six months. So it is likely that your team has started to adjust to a "new normal." 


But some problems don't go away so easily. Some issues have likely become more pressing over time.


One of these issues is stress management. Making this shift is difficult for everyone, but it can be especially hard on leadership. The following are eight stress management techniques to help you and your team manage anxiety while working from home during the pandemic.


1. Redefine and Raise Expectations


Working from home actually changes a lot more than just the physical location that you work in. It basically changes everything. If your team had to quickly transition to remote work because of the pandemic, you have to redefine your expectations to your team.


Everything about their job is different now. They are working in a home environment with more distractions. They also don't have the same social outlets or communication options with their coworkers.


This can produce not just stress, but unproductivity within your team. It's likely that your team has not had the most productive year due to this switch.


After six months of this new environment, it is time to raise your expectations. The learning curve of working from home is mostly over, and your team will appreciate a sense of normalcy with regard to your expectations.


It will be better for workflow and for your team's mental health. Give them some structure to hold on to.


2. Block Time To Yourself


At the beginning of the pandemic, you had to field a lot of questions about how to work Zoom, Skype, etc. But by now, your team has probably gotten the hang of working remotely. 


Still, you probably are getting more emails about technical questions than you used to. These things pile up. That's why blocking time out for dealing with issues as they come up can be really good for your personal stress management.


Set a block of time aside every couple of days to deal with unplanned issues, technical or otherwise. This management strategy will keep you from feeling too overwhelmed with your workload.


3. Check-In Often 


Remember, your team is used to seeing you every day. Now that they don't, you're going to need to set up regular times for communication. Maybe that's a daily one-on-one. Maybe that's a weekly team video chat.


Either way, make sure it's part of your routine.


It helps if you find fun and creative ways to check in with your team. Maybe send out motivational videos once a week. You can also organize a virtual happy hour with some mocktails and an emphasis on non-work talk. These stress management tools go a long way to keeping people socially engaged and content.


4. Have Fun


Oftentimes, managers forget to enjoy being a part of a team. Just because you're the leader, doesn't mean you can't reap the benefits of a community during a pandemic.


Take time to connect with your team members on a personal level. Share jokes, and ask about weekend plans. This levity will increase your bond with them, and decrease stress levels all around. 


Remember, laughter is the best medicine.


5. Trust Your Team


Working from home can be weird as a manager because you don't get to constantly supervise your team. You have to trust that they worked all afternoon, instead of watching TV or hanging out with their kids.


For a lot of managers, this is tough. You have to relinquish control a little bit. But if your employees feel that you trust them, they are way more willing to work hard for you. 


A lot of people are looking for the leadership they can trust during the chaos of the pandemic. If you show your team that you trust them, they will trust you. If you're worried you've already lost trust with your team, read this article.


6. Identify Your Support System


Your team is constantly looking to you for support. You are their leader, and that can be a lot of pressure. You might not even realize the toll it takes on your mental health.


That's why it is important to build your own support network outside of your workplace. People you can depend on and talk to.


Now that you have been working from home, it might also be helpful to establish a support system outside of your immediate family. Identify a friend or two that you can call to discuss work stress.


7. Be Supportive


Different members of your team might struggle with the work-from-home transition in different ways. Maybe someone on your team has kids running around the house. Maybe someone else has really spotty internet access.


One of the best things you can do to mitigate your team's stress is to ask them how it's going. Simply ask, "How is this transition going for you at home?" This gives them a platform to share their concerns with you. Then you can talk them through the issue and find a solution together.

 

Sometimes just voicing concerns does a lot to mitigate anxiety.


8. Stay Optimistic


Your team is looking to you for leadership. In tough situations like the pandemic, the whole team can fall apart when the leadership does.


This means that you should use positive and encouraging language. Things like, "We got this," or "great work on that" can go a long way to boost morale.


Remember, that means you need to find ways to fuel your own optimism. Taking care of yourself is important. Maybe invest in some new bath salts, or curl up with a good book after work. You can do this.


Stress Management is Key to Success


Stress management techniques are integral to working remotely. Especially if your team is used to being together in-person. Remember, these eight tips are important for managing stress and anxiety. Both for your team, and your own sanity.


If you play your cards right, this can be a period of growth for you and your team. You got this!

 


-Renata Porter




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