Cliches and superlatives abound in this strange new world we live in. The Oxford Dictionary will no doubt add these words and terms at the end of Annus Horribilis: "Social distancing"; Covid-19"; "Self-isolation" and "social distancing" etc.
We have entered unchartered territory. For most of us, staying completely confined to our homes without the ability to have physical contact with friends, let alone our own family members can be very stressful. Add to that the extra task of trying to maintain a normal life during this period where nothing is "normal" and everything we do has to be monitored to a certain degree. Life as we know it, at least for the foreseeable future, is completely derailed and if we don't make a conscious effort to maintain some sort of control over it, it can be very easy to fall into unhealthy habits.
As leaders in a call centre environment (read: "sales"), where staff are working from home it's especially difficult to keep staff motivated and focussed. How can you help yourself stay motivated for work and life while self-isolating? Here are a few helpful tips to keep you focused on staying healthy and positive:
1. Set a routine for your staff
Daily virtual dial-ins be it via Zoom, WhatsApp or House Party are essential. They should be able to set their clock to the meetings and if done properly, should be highly motivating and uplifting. In other words, are they looking forward to the touch-base in a toward state, or fearing a thrashing? If it's the latter, Houston, we have a problem!
2. Use WhatsApp or other low-bandwidth technology
Not only are team meetings valuable to vent and share challenges, leaders need to give individual members the power to choose whether a video or voice call one-on-one is preferred. Many people are for the first time allowing strangers into the privacy of their own homes, and this can be daunting in itself! Not everyone has a calm, clean environment at home where often screaming children and spouses are quite resentful to the intrusion. Be mindful of this, and empower your team member to make their own choices. One on one time is nonetheless very important, with video being the preferred channel to truly read their mood and motivation. 3. Multi-media YouTube videos Share daily motivational videos and stories (limitless with the advent of YouTube) selectively. Their is no one-size-fits-all here, so be mindful that the right message to the wrong team member is the wrong message. Take the time to rather select subject matter which is bespoke for the team member requiring coaching.
3. Encourage physical breaks every 45 minutes
It is well known that the prefrontal cortex can easily get overloaded, and taking regular breaks in an office environment is not always conducive to remaining focussed. If however you create a context of "don't watch me, watch the scoreboard!", they will realise that focussed input is more valuable to achieve great output when people are empowered. If agents are able to reach their goals in 6 hours versus the standard 8, does it really matter? Rather let them keep the friction in a claustrophobic environment at bay through spending family time with their loved ones.
4. Physical wellness
During your virtual video / voice team meetings, encourage them as best as possible to walk around or find a new room from which to chat. This works especially well on WhatsApp and if they can become involved from their garden or even kitchen it increases their blood flow and takes them away from the mundane computer screen. Obviously social distancing rules need to be adhered to and not everyone is fortunate enough from a space perspective, but having stand-up meetings or asking them to do 5 quick jumping jacks can be fun and break up the monotony.
It is a known fact that exercise releases the feel good hormones in your brain called endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals produced by the body to relieve stress and one way to tap into them is through exercise. The best part is when it comes to releasing endorphins, it doesn't have to be anything too intense—even moderate exercise can help the release of these natural body relaxants. Moreover, the most important key in this suggestion is to actually make time for your self-care, whatever it may be. Nestled in your daily schedule, make sure you make an appointment with yourself for your self-care so that the day doesn't pass you by without it!
5. Show empathy
It has never been more important to step up as a leader, and flex your emotional intelligence. Show more empathy and patience than you have ever shown before. People are on a knife-edge from the stress of lock-in, so cracks are often wider than they appear. Tread gently, because this too shall pass. God bless and stay safe!