The world of business is changing exponentially right now. In the wake of the worldwide spread of the potentially deadly coronavirus, businesses of all shapes and sizes are learning the importance of agility… the hard way.
While governments all over the world try to find ways of keeping the wheels of capitalism turning from interest-free loans to Universal Basic Income, the businesses lucky enough to remain operational as the world goes into lockdown have had to drastically rethink their operational models. Huge swathes of the global workforce are now working at home. And there are many reasons why employers might find this cause to concern as they reel to adapt to fluctuating markets and erratic industry demand.
Of course, remote working is nothing new. Many companies have found that it’s advantageous to fold remote working into their business model for some employees on a part-time or full-time basis. Still, as the world goes into lockdown, lots of companies are geographically separated from their employees. And while that creates a whole lot of challenges, it can also represent some opportunities.
Whatever your business does and whoever makes up your workforce, one thing’s for sure…
Productivity matters now more than ever
Productivity has always been one of the most powerful metrics in determining a business’ success and profitability. As employers and employees are distanced, productivity matters more than ever. Business owners are learning the importance of placing their trust in their employees in the hopes that they’ll become masters of their own productivity. This may be easy for some employees who have become used to working remotely on a part-time basis.
However, there will be many who are unaccustomed to working from home and the trials and temptations that this represents. The home is, after all, full of distractions that are not present in the workplace and remaining on-task may prove challenging. Especially for workers who share their home with anxious and under-stimulated children. Here are some tips that will not only help you to get the most out of your new legion of remote workers but to help them feel supported, motivated and cared for by you. Are you ready to become a remote productivity superhero? Read on…
Empower your employees with training and development
Jos Opdeweegh will tell you that talent management and development are absolutely essential to success in business. Especially when it comes to building and blending in-house and outsourced talent. When working remotely, it’s common for your employees to feel as if they’re on their own, cast adrift in unfamiliar territory. It’s up to you to empower them and help them to feel professionally fulfilled in this trying time.
The best way to do this is to ensure that you have access to training and development resources even when they’re not on-site. Whether this is an e-learning package that employees download and study in their free time, video tutorials featuring familiar faces like yourself or opportunities to learn new skills which can enrich their job and their career while they’re away from you. There are no wrong answers. If it helps your employees feel empowered, in control and in contact with you, it’s a good idea.
Provide practical tips on creating a productive working environment
Freelancers and small business owners already know the importance of establishing a home office or other environment in the home that’s just for work. However, employees used to working in an office or dedicated workplace may not be quite as aware of what makes a suitable working environment at home. They won’t understand the big difference that little things like house plants or access to natural light can make. As such, it’s a good idea to publish a document that is either posted on your online shared space or emailed to employees which will help them to create the perfect working environment at home so that they’re focused on work and not the post-lunch dishes.
Not sure about setting up the perfect working environment yourself? Here are some pointers that deal with everything from internet connectivity (wired over wireless wherever possible) to interior decor (sparse but comfortable with meaningful items that make the space theirs). The right working environment can make a huge difference to remote workers’ productivity.
Keep as much of your operation “business as usual” as you can
Your employees’ world is being upended. This is sure to make even the most stalwart member of your team feel nervous and uncertain. And while a little anxiety is to be expected, if you don’t give your team assurances and a certain sense of normalcy, it can exacerbate their feelings of uncertainty and upset. As such, try to keep as much of a “business as usual” vibe going as you can.
Maintain a constant line of communication. Email is good. Live chat is better. Be wary of encouraging employees to make lots of outbound calls as their personal phone tariffs may punish them for it.
Keep your set working hours as usual and encourage employees to check-in together. Provide daily briefings via video chat. Encourage employees to stay in touch with one another socially. Social distancing may be mandatory, but social isolation sure isn’t!
Encourage your employees to pace themselves
While some employees may struggle to stay motivated and on task, others will inevitably overcompensate and burn through their work as quickly as possible so that they can clock off and spend more time with their families. While this is understandable, the quality of their work will inevitably suffer if they’re racing themselves to the finish line. Try and schedule discrete tasks throughout the day and establish set hours for breaks. This will encourage them to pace themselves and prevent them from burning themselves out or letting the quality of their work slip.
Invest in keeping your team well remunerated
Finally, and this will be a very big ask for some companies, do your best to keep your team as well as remunerated as possible. Sure, they’re not just in it for the money. But many will be experiencing financial hardship, including out of work spouses. Providing financial stability can prevent worry and anxiety from impinging on their motivation and productivity.