For most of the people around the world today, the recent COVID-19 outbreak is a symbol of how fragile and unpredictable our lives can be in an unusual state of affairs. The virus which has changed the way in which most of us live, work or perform our basic day to day functions is continuing to increase its grasp at an alarming rate with the impact being felt at multiple levels resulting in economic slowdown, business disruption, trade hindrances, travel obstructions, public seclusion and so on.
With respect to the continuity of business, companies around the world have switched over to online/virtual modes of working while global mobility has come to a standstill. In India, various states have been exposed to a situation of complete lockdown which has led employers to ponder upon how they can keep their people safe, contain the spread of the virus and continue their operations effectively during this unprecedented crisis.
How companies can cope up with the challenge
While health officials continue to get a grip on multiple outbreaks across the country, it is important for the corporate sector to step up and rise to the challenge by going beyond the traditional way of thinking and follow some basic guidelines to maintain connectivity, motivation and excitement with its people, which includes:-
Bringing a cultural shift in the mindset - It is important to understand that this is first and foremost a human crisis and hence having an empathetic, transparent and supportive approach towards employees is critical. This means,
- Inducing flexibility in ways of working by giving the space to your teams to work according to their schedules and convenience without limiting them to a prescribed work schedule, which can have a negative effect on one’s productivity.
- Understanding the challenges of remote working and helping your people navigate through them. This means supporting them while they manage their personal life along with work and empowering them to not feel embarrassed if their kids, family etc. interrupt them while working.
- Ensuring a healthy work-life balance by helping your teams find space—both physical and mental—to work from home and promote a healthy work-life balance which allows them to devote a stipulated amount of time to their work as well as to themselves & their family to avoid the risk of burnout.
Making use of digital platforms to stay connected- Since physical meetings or catch-ups are no longer possible, it is important to harness the power of digital platforms which can help you ensure the continuity of operations even in remote conditions. This can happen through:-
- Enabling proper access to technology by ensuring that each of your employees have the required tech equipment such as laptops, good internet connection, VPN connection, digital database systems etc. in place.
- Using virtual platforms to have discussions, meetings and one-to-ones: In order to maintain motivation and enhance productivity, it is critical to have regular team meetings/interactions with one’s peers. Digital platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom etc. are a big advantage in this case and can help people stay updated and feel connected even while working from home.
Having a proper communication approach - Understanding the significance of responsibilities and interdependencies we have on each other, effective communication becomes a key component while working remotely and hence it is useful to have
- Time-to-time updates and information on ways of working: With one being surrounded by tons of articles and news information on the current situation, there is also a greater chance of people getting “psychologically sick”, leading to decreased productivity. Hence, it is essential to share regular updates and tips & suggestions in which they can make the most of their time & increase productivity and collaboration.
- Weekly townhalls: As a team which is responsible for collectively meeting the goals and targets of the company, it’s important to keep your employees informed and updated on new developments, strategies etc. which is why companies can look at organizing weekly virtual town halls with its people.
Apart from this, following the necessary precautions and bringing in basic health measures at the workplace such as proper sanitization & deep cleaning of all areas, etc. is an imperative during the present times and everyone should make it a part of their effort towards safeguarding the health & safety for all.
Obviously, these are challenging times for all of us but the one thing we know is that our best response relies on global empathy, cooperation and community building that sit at the heart of our movement. Since highly engaged employees and a productive workforce is a critical need of the moment, it is paramount to make talent a top most priority and move the needle by implementing strategies and initiatives that benefit society by supporting their employees, customers and the economy at large.