How to be Inclusive in an era of Social Distancing?

Inclusive in and era of social distancing

Last week was a surreal week. The COVID-19 virus spread across 114 countries and was officially called a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Students were told to pack and leave their campuses, retail chains started closing or reducing their store hours, and employees were asked to work from home. With limited testing, no treatment in sight, and the timeframe for availability of a vaccine quite uncertain, it looks like social distancing to slow down the spread of this highly contagious disease may be the new normal, at least for a while.

This week we are sure to be hit with the reality of what this new normal means to business, especially small and medium size organizations, and the economy as a whole. As employees settle in their makeshift home offices and get familiar with their video conferencing apps, their leaders are bound to struggle to keep their teams focused and productive with little planning or preparation. 

Inclusive in an era of Social Distancing – A Critical Time

There will never be a more critical time than the next few weeks for leaders and co-workers to stay connected and be inclusive and sensitive to the diverse needs of their team members. You may be worried about your strategic objectives, sales targets, or an important business event that will be impacted. The truth is no one knows the extent of those impacts. What we do know is that the impact to employee morale, feeling of belonging, engagement and productivity can be more devastating and long lasting that any other adverse effects on your organization.  Therefore, it’s more important than ever to develop and share best practices about how to be inclusive in an era of social distancing.

Inclusive in an era of Social Distancing – Our Commitment

Our commitment to you is to be there for you and to do everything we can during this challenging time to provide factual updates and share emerging best practices that leaders and coworkers can use to stay connected, be inclusive and build an even stronger workplace culture by the time this is all behind us.

How to be Inclusive in an era of Social Distancing?

To get started, we are sharing a few pieces of advice that you can immediately put to work. Stay tuned for exciting new virtual content we will be bringing to you over the next few weeks.

Provide Frequent Updates — Make sure your organization is keeping the whole team informed with 2-3 messages a week. These should include relevant local, regional and national news as well as updates specific to your organization and your customers. For example, you may include a government lockdown mandate, local school closings, as well as business travel directives, and supplier access restrictions implemented by one of your customers. 

Send Personal Emails — Make a list of your co-workers, employees and colleagues in other organizations and send them each a personal email to ask how they and their family are doing and if there is anything they’d like to share or need help with.

Make a Few Calls — If you don’t hear back, or you feel a lot of distress in an email response, pick up the phone and call your employee, coworker or colleague. Even if they don’t pick up, you can always leave a message to let them know you are there for them.

Form Local Support Teams — For teams larger than 20 or so, consider setting up local support teams of 8-10. This size will ensure that the team lead will have enough time to stay personally engaged with individual team members and that the group feels intimate enough to share openly with each other. Make sure the local teams tag up together at least once a week (and more often, as needed).

Show Off Your Creative Side — Get creative in your communications, using images, photos, videos and emojis, where possible! You will be surprised how much showing a bit of your creative side can do to lift spirits and help morale.

Lastly, please share any stories of how you and your team are dealing with remote work, and best practices you are putting in place or have observed that can keep teams together and strong. Please contact us, and let us know if we can give you credit when we share your stories and recommended best practices for being inclusive in an era of Social Distancing.