COVID-19 has spread to almost every nation across the globe and has ravaged world economies in unimaginable ways. While more than three million people have already been infected by the disease and more than 200 thousand people have also lost their lives due to it. What is even more worrying is that the devastation caused by the pandemic is not restricted just to the massive loss of life. Rather it is threatening the mental well-being and financial stability of a majority of people around the world. In this scenario, the number of organizations enabling remote working for their employees is increasing with each passing day. However, most organizations are still struggling with the challenge of ensuring better collaboration between the remote workers and motivating them to work as a team despite being forced to work alone. Empathy among Remote Co-workers is the need of the hour.
Impact of remote working on teamwork and collaboration
The spread of COVID-19 has upended traditional office culture and has ushered in an era where remote working has become the norm. However, even as organizations and employees struggle to adjust to this new routine of working from home, they are also facing the challenge of maintaining collaboration among co-workers. This is because unlike traditional workspaces, where co-workers used to sit together in meetings, have casual conversations with peers during breaks, or even share ideas and information in person, work from home has forced employees to operate in near isolation, connected only through digital means. In such a situation it is easy for them to develop a sense of mistrust and form incorrect opinions about their remote working colleagues. This often results in overcommitments and misjudgments affecting the overall effectiveness and morale of the team.
Overcoming the challenges
It is clear that maintaining collaboration with their co-workers is quite challenging while working remotely especially in the current crisis. However, it is possible for the employees to overcome this challenge by adopting an empathetic approach towards their co-workers.
In this context, the following points might help employees and teams to enhance collaboration and improve their overall efficiency while working remotely:
- Understand that every co-worker’s home situation is different
It is important for the employees to understand the fact that the home situation of each of their co-workers is different. Some of their co-workers might be struggling to manage their office responsibilities while also trying to continue the education of their children or taking care of their elderly parents. With the closing of schools and other educational institutions and the unavailability of maids and house helps, most employees are burdened by additional household responsibilities. Some employees might be living in complete isolation having been cut off from their family and friends due to the lockdown, which might add to their stress levels. Hence, it is important for the employees to understand the specific situations at the homes of their colleagues might be different from theirs and support them in any way possible.
- Increase the frequency of communication
In order to understand what their co-workers are going through and how they are coping with the current crises, the employees need to communicate with each other more frequently. It is important for co-workers to interact with each other using any mode they feel comfortable with, for sharing data, their concerns, small moments of joys, and even seek advice and support from each other on tiding through this crisis.
- Adopt a more patient and forgiving attitude
Most employees working from home are known to be extremely anxious and stressed mainly due to the prevaling circumstances. As such it is common for them to miss deadlines or make silly mistakes, which would normally not be expected of them. Rather than chastising their co-workers and making them feel guilty and embarrassed, it is important for employees to adopt a more forgiving and patient attitude towards their co-workers. Talking things over with their peers by calling them up or simply sending a gentle reminder after rectifying the mistakes on their own end are just some ways of improving team spirit during these difficult times.
- Express gratitude more and complain less
Employees need to develop an attitude of being grateful for even the smallest efforts being made by their co-workers to keep the business functional. They need to acknowledge the fact that it is due to their combined efforts that the organization is still able to fulfill its commitments towards its clients. So rather than complaining about issues such as delays in task completion or inefficiency of their peers, employees should learn to thank them for their contribution and hard work even in the face of great stress.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a time to restore human values in professional relationships and enable co-workers to strengthen their sense of mutual trust and understanding. Empathy among remote co-workers is the need of the hour.
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