The question of productivity: Research shows that many employees are actually more productive working from home than from the office. A survey conducted by CoSo Cloud showed that 77% of respondents were more productive when remote working and 52% said they were less likely to take time off, even when sick.1
Three common challenges of remote working include lack of in-person supervision, access to information and distractions at home. If these can be managed appropriately, remote working can be extremely advantageous for both employers and employees.
Rules of engagement: Taking into account that everyone’s home situation is different and will present various challenges to employees now wrangling the challenge of remote working under extenuating circumstances, it is important to clearly define expectations and parameters for all employees. It should include communication methods and expectations for hours of work, how to conduct meetings and what platforms should be used.
Create schedules and set goals: Encourage departments and individuals to set daily and weekly targets and to-do lists to assist in keeping focus during a potentially scattered time. Online check-ins or web-based tracking tools can be very useful to keep everyone swimming in the same direction.
Pay attention to what was not working: This aspect is vital. Any areas of challenge that were present before employees moved to remote working will be amplified as a result of this change. If there was low trust before, now it will be even lower. If there was a tendency to avoid conflict, now it will be even easier to avoid. Take note of where the cracks were already showing and be proactive in addressing these areas.
Look out for loneliness: While it’s important to take care of the practical matters around work efficiency, the human element is even more important. Everyone has been placed under inordinate amounts of stress and pressure in this unfamiliar Lockdown situation, and psychological and emotional well-being is vital to each individual employee as well as their employers.
Make time and take effort to reach out to colleagues and staff for social connections and check-ins – this contributes greatly to emotional support and well-being for all.
Allow some flexibility and be kind: Some people are juggling kids at home while working, some have sick family members – everyone is experiencing strain at this time. Be aware of this and allow for some flexibility wherever possible. If it’s easier for the single parent to work afternoons into evenings or in chunks of time, see if this can be accommodated. Discussion and dialogue are key and if an open channel of communication is maintained, employees will feel recognised and understood and employers will be able to support their staff appropriately as well as keep business flowing as best as possible.
Maintaining balance as a leader: As a manager or leader, you may be dealing with strain from many angles – personal and family challenges, health issues, as well as staying on top of things for your team or staff, let alone financial pressures. If you wish to be available in your best capacity to others, it is absolutely vital that you take care of yourself first. Here are some suggestions to take note of2:
Set clear boundaries for work, family, and rest.
Eat well, make time for exercise, sleep well, meditate if it helps, get outside if you can.
Communicate your availability clearly to colleagues.
Discuss and reallocate responsibilities.
Stop trying to do everything at once. Focus on the minimum you can do to begin with and build sustainably on that.
Find time to meet with your peers to support and guide each other.
Make time for friends and loved ones.
Step away from the screen, smell the grass, enjoy the sun on your face, and get a bit of perspective at least once a day.