Managing Better from Home – Part 3: Overcoming Uncertainty Due to the Lack of Face-to-Face Interactions

Facing the new reality of going virtual, changes in environment, practices, and people can lead to a completely different experience. Uncertainty is one of the most stressful feelings. Often in life, the idea of control gives us comfort because it makes us feel like we’ve got our sh…stuff together. Hence, during a pandemic – when there are things we simply cannot predict – prolonged stress, whether from uncertainty or anything else, can lead to physical and psychological consequences one may not be prepared to cope with.

COVID-19’s Impact on Uncertainty

  1. The concept of working from home is still inaccurately viewed by many as unproductive and lazy.

Looking back at the times when we were still in the office, employers tend to use busyness and working late as signs of effectiveness and devotion. Switching to remote work settings takes away these visual cues, thereby losing the one source leaders may rely on for job performance. As unsettling as it can be, it will take time to learn how to trust your employees when they are not visibly around.

  1. Our brains are wired to react to uncertainty with fear.

The less information we have about our surroundings, the more irrational our behaviors become. The fear of not knowing can drive us to our limits and eventually lead to a plunge in morale. At this time, over a third of Canadian workers fear losing their jobs because of COVID-19; the same survey also reports poorer mental health among these people.

  1. The absence of social cues from face-to-face interactions makes it hard to maintain relationships the same way we would in the office.

The lack of transparency in remote work impairs our ability to align our goals with the company, affecting not only the way we perform, but also how we interact with our teams. As we’ve mentioned in Part 1 of our series, the underlying uncertainty of a person’s intentions and attitudes – when communicating virtually – remains a risk of conflict between individuals.

Managing with Team-Fit

While we can only speculate when or how this pandemic will end, we’d like to at least provide some predictability during these unpredictable times. Our team-fit tool has the competency to identify social needs and work preferences based on a person’s characteristics. When handling a distressed team, these data can be helpful in creating measures that will optimize each individual’s potentials. For example, task-focused members thrive best when they are recognized for their attention to detail; those who are people-focused, likewise, feel most rewarded when they get to collaborate with others.

In the end, the best way to predict the future is by focusing on the present. Whether it’s for the crisis or for the long run, take this time to learn and understand your employees. While you’re here, learn more about the relationship between team-fit and remote work from our Occupational Psychologists here.