How To...

Ask these questions if you've been laid off

Unemployment has spiked in recent weeks and will continue to for some time. If you've been laid off or furloughed, or if you're worried that you might be, make sure to get the information you need from your employer. This means asking your boss and human resources the right questions, such as: when will I receive my last paycheck, and what will it include? What exactly happens to my benefits? Will I get paid for unused vacation time? It's crucial to ask about severance and health care packages - and don't assume you can't negotiate the terms. And while it may be tough to think about the future, do what you can to make getting the next job easier. This means asking your boss if they'll be a reference for you later, and asking human resources for copies of your performance reviews, which will help you update your resume. While they may seem small, these steps will help you clarify the future and regain control.

(This tip is adapted from '7 Questions to Raise Immediately After You're Laid Off,' by Susan Peppercorn.)

How to support your team from a distance

If your team just made an abrupt shift to remote work, it's important to offer encouragement and emotional support. Acknowledge the pressure everyone is under, listen to their anxieties and concerns, and empathise with their struggles. If a newly remote employee is clearly having a hard time, but not communicating stress or anxiety, ask them how the person is doing. Even a general question such as 'how is this remote work situation working out for you so far?' can elicit important information. Remember your team is looking to you for cues about how to handle this uncertain time. Instead of communicating helplessness, take a two-pronged approach: acknowledge the stress and anxiety that people may be feeling, but also affirm your confidence in the team. Now is the perfect time to use phrases like, 'we've got this,' or 'this is tough, but I know we can handle it.'

(This tip is adapted from 'A Guide to Managing Your (Newly) Remote Workers,' by Barbara Z. Larson, Susan R. Vroman and Erin E. Makarius.)

Consider the urgency of an instant message

When you and your team are working remotely and on different schedules, work-life boundaries can get blurry. So think carefully...

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