The COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest black swan event of the 21st century. organizations the world over are struggling to ascertain and pivot around new ways of working. Much is unclear, but the common understanding is that the VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) that was talked about for so many years has come to stay.
Companies that had dismissed work from home as newfangled IT/MNC ideas have been forced to embrace it. Amidst all the challenges there’s one common, and the most important, denominator – people. To stay connected with our people and keeping them motivated and positioned to succeed makes engagement and enablement even more critical now. Here’s how we can keep our teams happy and productive while telecommuting.
Clear communication and knowing exactly what’s expected is key to successfully working from home. People managers need to be sensitized and equipped to handle a remote workforce by focusing on objectives rather than time spent in the office. It’s important to set short-term goals, clear guidelines, and expectations. Definite direction encourages employees to work smart to meet their objectives and key results.
With onboarding new employees moving online, creating an immersion strategy that can be personalized and deployed over WebEx or Zoom will ensure that a new hire does not feel isolated. A daily connect with the manager over a video call builds rapport and makes a newcomer feel welcomed, supported, and enabled to be productive from day one.
organizations often depend a lot on tribal knowledge, that body of organizational wisdom that is not documented but shared amongst peers and subordinates in the office. To ensure that a remote worker has access to this treasure trove, a catch-up call with the team does wonders – even if it’s only for ten minutes.
Provide integrated wellness
For people to achieve the equilibrium they seek between their professional and personal lives, we need to provide holistic support across physical, emotional, and financial wellness - especially now when employees have to contend with the potential health risk of loved ones, job stability and salary disruptions, and the inability to unwind and socialize. The pandemic coincides with the beginning of the financial year when most people plan their finances and make large investments. Ensuring prompt and easy access to counselors, mental health & mindfulness experts, and financial consultants for those who need support will go a long way in helping employees cope.
Encourage remote learning
Coronavirus or not, one must never stop learning. During this lockdown, the time one saves from not commuting can be utilized to do online courses, build new skills, and gain new perspectives. By providing digitally enabled resources and experiences to employees, businesses can garner the advantages of online learning and build a compelling advanced learning culture.
Acknowledge employee efforts
Employees have had to adapt to changes overnight to ensure they remain productive. Organizations must take cognizance of their commitment and recognizing employees’ efforts to encourage and motivate them to work harder and drive engagement. How about sending that email or a shout-out on the Intranet to appreciate the good work?
Have fun through virtual team building activities
Finally, companies shouldn’t forget to have fun. In an on-premise environment, employees usually gather in a cafeteria for a short coffee break. The same can be done virtually. Employees should be encouraged to join a virtual café, with coffee and snacks. Employees can share photographs of their ‘workstations’ at home, tips on balancing housework, family and professional commitments, and simply enjoy a casual unfiltered conversation, or play online games and quizzes.
All things considered, this is a great opportunity for companies to reassess and plan their people strategies around a remote workforce - recruitment process, work allocation & performance management approach, employee engagement practices, and IT/Infosec policies.