Adjustment is the key to overcoming crisis and extraordinary situations. These last couple of weeks have shown us that everybody is aware of that – citizens, students, caterers, companies… If the situation is impossible to solve in a short period of time, the only thing left is to adapt (for the moment, at least). The #stayhome movement which has caught on due to pandemic, is an expression of responsibility towards yourself, the people around you, society as a whole, but mostly towards those who don’t have the luxury to do the same because their job is of the essence to fight the virus.
So, what does that mean for the rest of us? Remote work. Of course, as much as is possible, depending on the nature of your job. If you have an office job, you probably already have some experience of working from home, but people who are used to doing their job from their living room for a prolonged period of time are definitely a minority. To keep a high level of productivity, it’s important to lay down some ground rules and follow best practices. Whether you are an employer or an employee, long-term remote work will certainly mean a considerable amount of change in your workflow.
◉ 1. Empathy and keeping people informed
Apart from basic equipment for remote work, what employees need most is empathy and understanding from their superiors. This is a completely unprecedented situation for management as well. Nevertheless, it is essential for the person who has the authority to remain calm and show leadership, as well as compassion.
Fear and anxiety are common in crisis, that is just one more reason to keep your employees regularly informed by giving them transparent information on what is going on. Fake news cause panic and can be extremely harmful. Be sure your employees are informed, but not only them – your clients and partners as well. It is important now, more than ever before, to be transparent and on time, because due to lack of information people will surely assume the worst scenario – the employee will fear losing their job, the supplier will expect problems with payment, etc.
Right now, the way you say something matters as much as what you say, so take into consideration the situation your employee, buyer or partner is in right now, whether in regards to their private life or the type of business they are conducting.
◉ 2. Daily routine
Leaders who are aware that remote work thoroughly changes the daily routine of the whole team do their best to create a new one. Setting up new norms for the whole team would be step one. This guarantees that, even though the team is now dislocated, there is still a set of rules and practices that applies to each person equally.
First of all, organize team meetings. Right at the beginning define the when and the how. For a while now, each team here at HSM-informatika (e.g. marketing, sales, consultants..) has regular check-in meetings. We have 30 minute weekly meetings, as well as short, 10 minute daily briefings.
We usually have those meetings live, but, when switching to remote work, the first step was to organize them online. Clearly, online will never fully replace face to face contact, but it has enabled us to see each other and share information in a timely manner. And above all, it has ensured that we still feel like a team, despite the fact that we don’t share the same working space anymore.
◉ 3. Data access
For most employees, morning looks something like this: they get up, commute to work, get into the building and go to their desk. That process brings with it a significant amount of interaction with others, and the job itself brings even more. Since all of that is gone now for most people, it is vital to make sure they don’t feel alone. Short daily video meetings will give them the feeling they are not alone in this situation and that they are still part of the company. It is also a great opportunity to reflect on the job the team has done so far, point out the positive things and remind everyone of future goals and projects. That should keep the team motivated and help them focus in their home offices.
Keep in mind that current working conditions have a great impact on the way the team exchanges information. It is no longer possible to just ask a colleague next to you to give you, for example a contact of a certain client. Right now, having a well organized client database is of more value than ever. Companies who already have customer relationships management systems need to keep their databases updated. Those who don’t can use shared tables so that everyone can have access to important data.
◉ 4. Increasing productivity and catching up
Set up clear goals for each day. It is impossible to be equally productive throughout the entire day. Recognize the period of time that suits you most and focus most of your work on that part of the day. The flexibility of remote work should give you the ability to do that. If you eliminate all the things that could affect your focus, the fact that you work alone should increase your productivity and give you more time at the end of the work hours. If, on top of it all, the current crisis has lightened your daily workload, be sure to use that time to catch up with some other things that you previously constantly had to put off. After crossing everything off your to-do list, you can always take on online courses and focus on education.
For example, our marketing team had planned to organize and take part in a number of big conferences in April and May which have, naturally, now been canceled. So, we turned our focus to increasing visibility on online channels, organizing our web, creating a plan for social media communication, helping other departments to reorganize, etc.
◉ 5. Make distractions your allies
One of bizarre, but undeniably true rules is: the busier you are, the more work you will get done. The notion that you don’t have a lot of time to do a certain task will make you, when you have only that limited amount of time, to concentrate on it completely and think of nothing else. This will result in completing the task much faster that usual, but also in doing a very good job.
People who have small children will most probably have a cramped schedule while working from home. If you have only a short amount of time during the day you can dedicate to work, let the pressure help you. Use the time you have to the maximum and focus solely on that. You will soon realize that, with maximum focus, you can do a lot more in a short period of time. Don’t forget to talk to the people you live with and tell them about your plans so they can adjust and help you.
We are currently in an unprecedented situation and there is no universal solution for it. Every company, every manager, every employee, and finally every person, has to find their own way of managing the situation. Just keep in mind that change is inevitable and the fact that we are changing the way of doing things does not mean we are changing the quality of it.