March 13, 2020
Now more than ever, employees are facing rapidly changing work environments. The importance of remaining agile during such times is crucial to the future of any business. Remote working has been on the rise for a number of years, but almost always as an occasional or voluntary option; far from the norm among an office-based working culture. However, as entire teams and workforces are now shifting to a working from home policy, even if temporarily, businesses are presented with an entirely new challenge of how to ensure their employees are still able to safely and successfully do their jobs.
The health and well-being of employees is always the number one priority, so as businesses increasingly adapt their working models, here are some tips to effectively manage your teams during times of rapid change:
1. Mitigate disruption
While ‘business as usual’ is out of the question in such unprecedented circumstances, the first major challenge HR teams face is how to make sure that as many business functions as possible, continue without disruption. When employees’ regular routines are being turned upside down, businesses should do what they can to impart as much normality as possible. Keeping regular meetings in the diary and sticking to pre-arranged schedules can be as important as providing the required flexibility, particularly when it comes to mitigating disruption and staving off the chaos.
2. Go digital
We live in a golden age of technology, and entrepreneurs have for years been developing technological alternatives to almost all of our business processes. Whether it’s video and conferencing calls in place of meetings, instant messaging services instead of the office chat, or digital project management tools instead of that large meeting room wall-chart, businesses can migrate their day-to-day online and ensure their workforces are still equipped with the necessary support to achieve success.
3. The human touch
The context of ‘lockdown’ and ‘quarantine’ puts an entirely different perspective on remote working and should remind us that for many employees, being ‘remote’ poses a number of new difficulties. This is a challenge for HR departments and L&D professionals, as entire workforces will have to operate without meaningful human interaction. It shouldn’t be underestimated how much we subconsciously gain from body language and voice cues.
Where possible, businesses should encourage video calls over phone calls, and phone calls over instant messages. Digitalised HR resources, such as digital coaching and employee feedback solutions, can help manage employee well-being and mentoring processes in difficult, or remote, situations. Digital coaching in particular is an effective tool to manage stress and identify inner strengths and resources that can support people during a crisis.
Technology can solve so many problems, but there is often no substitute for adding a human touch.
4. Adjust your expectations
For many employees, operating remotely will lead to working in sub-optimal conditions. Very few of us are able to replicate an office environment at home, and extended periods of remote working can lead to boredom, stagnated productivity and added emotional strain on employees. The context is crucial, and businesses should always remember there are individuals behind every email. In such extraordinary circumstances, adjusting expectations is necessary, particularly if employees have family members affected.
5. Lead from the front
Remote workforces can quickly become isolated workforces if businesses don’t manage them properly. In lieu of human interactions in the office, it is key to make sure employees still feel like they are part of a wider team, and that the unity of the company is protected as much as possible. HR teams should lead by example and, where possible, increase the amount of face-time with individual employees and teams, to address any questions or concerns, reassure them that the understanding and empathy mentioned above is there, and to ensure that they still feel like part of a successful and sociable team.
The most important thing for businesses to remember in this unprecedented context is that there is more to life than the bottom line. Employees are humans, with individual circumstances and concerns, and should always be treated as such. Increasing tailored and personalised support is the best way to ensure that people are happy and healthy at work, which will in turn increase productivity, reduce staff turnover, and ultimately get the best out of your workforce, no matter how remote they have to be.
If you have any questions about how you or your organisation can adapt to the changes and challenges we’re facing, feel free to contact us. We’re more than happy to discuss potential solutions and strategies.