How do companies sustain and perhaps improve performance in these difficult times? We’re essentially living through what analysts call “the world’s largest work-from-home experiment”. In the midst of the uncertainties around the health, social and financial impact of the pandemic, talents are faced with the responsibility of delivering on work tasks.
An important difference between working remotely in this circumstance and remote work in general is that remote work today is happening in a time characterized by extreme uncertainty and anxiety. Some tips organizations and leaders can consider to set your teams up for high performance during these interesting times include:
- Embrace virtual meetings.
Redundant as this may sound, some people are still not comfortable with virtual meetings. People have had to make alterations to time management (and sleep patterns) while moving into a full, work from home model. Without the ability to have the organic conversations that in-person offices allow, virtual meetings, whether impromptu or scheduled, will be at the heart of how people engage with one another.
- Set boundaries
If you live with roommates, spouses, or children, you will need to get structured about work space and hours. On the work side, discuss with your team the hours for work. On the home front, set clear boundaries with your co-habitant(s) during work hours. Likewise, set boundaries that prevent work from unreasonably taking your family time. This balancing act is critical to effective work and family life during this work from home period.
- Avoid ‘meeting paralysis’
Meetings can be some of the greatest causes of work not getting done. Now we’re not in the office but are we still holding unnecessary or meaningless meetings? Possibly! It’s tough to balance how much is too much when it comes to meetings when leaders have to consider the need to connect with their teams for morale reasons, to gauge engagement and productivity and to simply keep their teams updated. The best solution is to come up with a list of meeting rules of engagement that everyone abides by.
- Avoid work from home guilt
When the topic of working remotely comes up, leaders are often concerned about ensuring employees aren’t abusing the system. In reality, most employees end up working way more hours than they did in the office. It’s easy for someone to get caught up working from morning till night when already at home. Our guilt can drive us to work longer hours in hopes to show our value to the organisation. But that’s a recipe for burnout. Lay out clear office hours with your manager. Work to have the focus be on results rather than visible time on the computer.
- Prioritize energy management.
Pay attention to when you are the most productive and focused. It may be the first few hours in the morning, when you’re fresh from a night’s sleep. It may be towards the afternoon when you start to get a sense of what really needs to get done. You may just be a late-afternoon home-runner. Discuss how to coordinate those energy windows with the energy windows of the others on your team..
- Lead with compassion
For leaders, it’s easy to get obsessed with the high probability that your talent are simply just taking the piss during this lockdown period. As mentioned earlier, these are strange and stressful times. These are times where leadership needs compassion. Your employees are your best asset whether they’re coming to work every day, working remotely, even when they are unable to do their jobs. Leaders will have to take the risk of trust at this time. There seems to be no viably safe alternative.