Adapting to working remotely has been difficult for all workers, and it has been a learning experience for employees and corporations alike. From early data from the first 4 months or so of people working from home, it seems that many people prefer the change, but what kind of issues does it pose for management?
“The last six months have been like playing a game of chess where all the pieces can move in any direction, even the pawns,”
Gone are the days of cramming teams into the meeting room and doing presentations in person, this has been swiftly replaced by remotely-managed Zoom meetings. From mic issues to accidental muting, there is certainly a range of teething problems with this new medium of group interaction, and that’s without mentioning people’s reluctance to use their camera, begging the question as to whether or not they’re even at their desks.
Regardless of what happens, productivity is a massive priority for businesses, and keeping workers engaged has been a tall task for managers around the world. No longer can we sit amongst our teams and visually assess their productivity, we are limited to online reporting tools and the old fashioned “taking their word for it” which just doesn’t cut it in most companies.
“Working remotely requires more individual contact, not less, and the first mistake people make is to have lots of large-group meetings.”
Keeping workers focused and dedicated to the job at hand can be challenging in “normal” times. Now with kilometers of distance and very little contact between managers and their teams, you would imagine that things wouldn’t be as easy when it comes to maintaining a plugged-in workforce.
People are being starved of the regular social interactions they would have taken for granted in previous years, and with lockdown measures still being implemented across Ireland, there is no real replacement for good old human interaction. Managers simply must place an intensified effort on speaking with their teams on an individual basis in order to keep them clued in and committed during the day.
Whether it’s asking them how things are at home, chatting about sports, or the US election, a simple non-work-related message can go a long way when it comes to employee morale.
People Lose Focus
No matter what efforts are made to boost engagement in your team, at the end of the day, we have entered a weird, weird period in human history. People are sadder, more confused, and a little less hopeful about their futures. It is fairly understandable that workers are lacking focus on worrying about other things.
“It’s important to remember that the current type of situation can lead to feelings of exclusion. There’s no gossip, no chat over a coffee and this creates uncertainty about what’s really going on. You may never completely allay people’s fears, but you have to try by being in more frequent contact than you would if you were all together, where so much happens naturally. Make sure people know you’re accessible and available.”
This isn’t like an internal dispute where we can quickly look at past cases or check the HR guidelines. This is, as much as the term is saturating modern-day literature; unprecedented. Managers need to give their teams the benefit of the doubt. Yes, millennials can often feel a little too entitled, and perhaps their a bit more sensitive than older generations, but now is the time to let them know you have their back, and that things will be ok.
These times are tough for everyone but let’s not make the mistake of excluding members of the company. Everyone will deal with this pandemic in different ways, all we can do is support each other.