The world has gone through the most unprecedented changes during the last few weeks. Coronavirus Pandemic has restricted our travel and made us all sit at our home for much-needed safety. The majority of corporates have adopted a remote working process in order to keep the show running.
The ‘work from home’ (WFH) phenomenon is not new. Many organizations have been practicing WFH in the past, maybe for a small section of employees. Companies like 37signals & Intuit have a large team of employees working remotely. But for most of us, a sudden change in our working style came with its own challenges. As a manager, most of your challenges in ensuring the best team performance will remain the same in the WFH arrangement, there are some snags you must avoid.
Assuming most of your employees haven’t taken proper training for WFH processes, it will be difficult for you to ensure higher engagement & improved productivity from your team. Worry not, we at MeDigit Solutions have compiled a guide to ensure you know common challenges faced by employees and ways to overcome them.
Factors affecting work performance in remote work environment:
Accept this – WFH is more demanding than work from office. You will experience a decline in productivity of your employees, particularly when they haven’t gone through proper WFH training or your organization processes are not set correctly. Let’s look at factors affecting productivity of employees at large:
The most important part of any organization is communication. Research has proved that teams that work in constant coordination, perform better. When working at the office, employees do have multiple ways to communicate with each other – face to face is the most effective. For the smallest of requirements to detailed brainstorming – face to face discussions have proved to be highly impactful for success.
Challenge: in WFH arrangement, communication with the team becomes rather difficult. At times, locating a small data shared by a colleague or discussing the smallest of issues could take long hours in remote work arrangement.
Solution: Emails are old school, it will never contribute towards a faster & collaborative work environment. Offer them richer options – such as Slack, Microsoft Team, Zoom, Google suite, etc. Limit your tool stack to only one or two of these and it will help everyone to stay focussed and work faster.
Employees tend to collaborate with each other both professionally and personally. At times, managers are not even aware of collaboration efforts put together by employees to make things work. Such collaboration happens in the form of sharing responsibilities, dividing work, brainstorming new ideas and dealing with clients/stakeholders.
Challenge: In a remote work environment, collaboration means more & more of remote communication, which in turn means higher time spent in discussing, not doing.
Solution: Tools like Trello & Basecamp can be your weapons to ensure better collaboration. Each task can be divided into various sub-tasks and delegated to each individual using such tools.
Next, you can adopt collaboration on cloud based office tools like Google office suite – to avoid frequent back and forth of project documents.
Pro tip: Create a virtual meeting room on Hangout or Zoom – it should be open for all and live 24×7. Anyone can check-into the room whenever they feel like talking to someone. They can even check who’s available to discuss or collaborate on the room.
The productivity of employees also depends on the ‘culture’ of an organization. Managers must bring-in a culture of trust, innovation, and professionalism in the organization.
Challenge: While it’s easy to bring in these values at a physical workplace, how do you achieve the same in a remote environment?
Solution: Managers must set up WFH guidelines. It’s of paramount importance to have common guidelines for working hours, leaves, performance metrics and meeting schedules. It helps in setting the order right.
- Daily check-in calls to discuss work agenda within the team
- Communication metrics depending on issue and priority. For example, things requiring urgent attention can be communicated via phone call. While things that require not-so-high attention, can be shared over email or task management tools.
- Plan for at least one face to face meeting with each of your team members every week.
- Clear guidelines for managing timelines must have – with collaboration in place, any delay from one team member can have cascading consequences.
- In many WFH photographs posted by people on social media, I came across photos showing employees working with kids in lap, working while sleeping on sofa or sitting in a balcony. These are distractions and will never help in bringing focus to the work. Organizations must instruct employees to build a conducive workplace at home.
Because of Covid19 situation, boosting morale of employees becomes utmost important. Motivated workforce delivers better performance – we all know that.
Problem: With so much negative news around, it’s likely that people find it difficult to focus. Add to that responsibility of managing home chores without domestic help and thin supply of household needs and constant presence of family. It’s tough to stay motivated in such a scenario.
- Managers must stay positive in order to motivate their team. Motivational quotes, stories and examples of past success can be shared during daily calls & meetings. You can also try this – start each email conversation with a motivational quote.
- Understanding human values and giving employees their own space will help. A lot of employees would prefer an early morning slot to finish their tasks while some would prefer late evening. Managers must motivate them to work at their ease, without compromising timelines.
- You can start by listening to anxieties and stress your team is facing, understand their concerns and restate the problem back to the employee to ensure you listened correctly. This will create a ‘trickle-down effect’ on employees. Your employees will be more focussed when they are listened to.
Finally, it’s all about adapting to the new way of working and ensuring we all sail through this period smoothly. While your organization’s business may take a hit for this time period, the camaraderie of employees should not be compromised.