As business leaders, we are under pressure like never before. Cigna's 2020 study* reports that sick days double, and performance drops, when employees work in isolation. Noteworthy, over 61% of all adults report feelings of loneliness and isolation. Productivity takes a nose dive when workers feel alone, and the increasing likelihood of that grows by working remote.
The C-suite is not immune either. Recently, 69% of senior leaders reported, "no one actually knows me at work" and 56% of senior leaders disclosed, "I have no one to talk to".
As executives, our companies are in crisis management mode. We are re-forecasting cash, revenue, margin, labor models, supply chains, and our operating plans. We are leading our teams virtually, with no foreseeable reprieve. Daily, we are balancing new levels of complexity, disruption and uncertainty, while also being required to make educated, fact-based, non-emotional decisions. We are doing this in isolation, literally and figuratively.
reachXOD suggests 6 Steps C-suite Leaders Should Do Now to Increase Remote Productivity. We hope this can help you, and your teams, fight the inevitable battle of feeling isolated or alone.
- Get your own confidential business advisor. Someone you can talk with, regularly over the next 6-8 months. Be transparent (well, do not violate your NDAs, but do openly discuss the way you are handling isolation. Scenario advice is always helpful, “how do I, how would you, what did you...”
- Hold virtual “team” meet-ups with your peeps. Business should not be the sole focus. Require video. Make it fun (e.g. hats and happy hour, etc.)
- Show up and get the ball rolling. The team needs to connect and share their virtual water cooler chats.
- Create new language with your team that makes room for the inevitable surprises that occur when people work from their kitchen table. (e.g., a dog barking, a kid running through the kitchen, your elderly parents wandering through your back-ground, internet drops). It is going to happen.
- Model acceptance and redirect. Acknowledge disruptions, after all, they are the new norm. Name it, and redirect without shame. Make it okay by laughing about it, “LOL...okay team, that’s an UNO (unintended noise opportunity). Someone needs to hit their video button. Sally, what were you saying...?”
- Maintain regular one on one, and skip level meetings (yes, it is especially critical to hold these right now). Allow time to simply connect with each of your direct reports, and theirs, one on one. Remember, statistically speaking, at least 61% of your team feels isolated and alone at any given time.
Executives are expected to remove the blockers that hinder their teams from achieving the company's goals. People who feel isolated and alone are not as productive and will take longer to get to the goal. Ease their burden, and yours. Don’t go it alone.