Managing Businesses & Work From Home: The Coronavirus Impact
COVID-19 is officially a pandemic now and it has forced the way people and organizations are used to doing things. Majority of the businesses in Europe, US, Middle East and Russia have advised their employees to work from home in the continuing attempt to curb the coronavirus outbreak. It is expected that this social distancing will decrease the chance of community spread during a commute or in closer office spaces.
Situation however, is a bit different in countries like Pakistan and India as the organizational culture and the overall people’s work ethics are not favorable for the work from home mantra.
For business owners and managers who are used to managing teams, projects and their employees from an actual office, COVID-19 present a multitude of new challenges: How can one efficiently managework processes, operations and employees through the use of technology alone by eliminating direct human contact? This sudden shift in work is unparalleled, especially for organizations with hundreds or thousands of employees. So, the answer is ‘No’. Not all organizations are set up for this change.
Although the coronavirus pandemic is largely anticipated to profoundly change the way many business entities operate for the anticipatable future, it brings with it tremendous challenges and opportunities which the management and HR consultants have been promoting for over a decade now which is – Investing In Technology For home-based work. Remote work is our new reality. Jon Younger, who is one of the leading experts and advocate of freelancing and working from home recently wrote in an article for Forbes: “Alok Alstrom, CEO of AppJobs, tells me, “It looks like some clients are increasing spend and others are pausing to see where things are headed. We don't see too much geographical difference between countries just yet except for Italy where activity has sharply decreased during last 7 days.”
Pandemic has struck and people are hunkered down. The only way out is to teach inexperienced business owners and managers in adapting to this new phenomena. Firstly, how do business leaders, functional managers, and employees make this sudden shift? The answer is to follow the 3Cs of the new team/operation management.
Business leaders/managers should clarify goals and job roles to the entire team. This paradigm shift is a great move to understanding the overall business operations, processes, job descriptions and performance standards. Managers should ensure that each individual comprehends the current scenario, what future lays ahead, overall mission and vision, the team’s new objectives and possibly new business targets and market segmentation. Overall business clarity will result in better performance outcome and enhanced motivation towards work.
Communication is considered one of the most important elements for a team’s success, but it will be of utmost importance when working remotely. It will greatly help in terms of decision making/taken and reaching out to the members for effective working of the newly amended and customized internal business processes. A recent study by Harvard Business Review suggest that more than 45% of remote workers believe that effective managers are constantly in communication with them regarding all aspects of the work.
Another tip is to keep the names and photos of all team members near you and ask yourself ‘Did I reach out to employee X and Y today?’ This will make sure that now one is left behind during this time of crisis when it comes to the communication aspects.
To address these challenges, it’s high time for personal interaction. Employees working from home are most likely to feel left out and discriminated, which lowers efficiency and commitment. Managers themselves who are not used to conducting virtual meetings can feel stressed about managing the work and team in an orderly fashion.
The trick here is to listen to the employees, trusting and giving them a sense of respect using candor during communication calls and inquiring them about their health will produce effective work results. This will also reduce micromanagement.
What Managers Must Do Without Delay
Get the basic technological infrastructure right. Make sure all employees have access to the necessary technology. Who has access to the internet and to a laptop? How will the attendance and time schedule managed? Should organization shift its focus on 8 hours a day to specific daily outputs irrespective of the time spent? What about those employees who don’t have laptops or mobile devices? Direct managers should spontaneously make sure that everyone has full access, so no one feels left out.
Align Yourself Sensibly To This Change
Develop values and behaviors towards a well-organized way of managing the day. Have a tempo, do plenty of exercise and eat a balanced diet. If you are naturally an extrovert, make sure that still happens. Engage yourself with others through various platforms in a positive conversation.
As a manager, ask your peers what they can do to make sure that this sudden and quick transition effective for them.
People working from home will miss daily interactions. Encourage the use of instant messaging for psychological health. Employees are going to take time to adjust to this new work style so you have to coach them.
Employees wonder what’s happening at the company, will they get salaries on time, how is the market doing overall, with common objectives. As a business leader, it’s your job to make sure they feel like they’re going to be just fine. Working from home brings all sorts of challenges, so when you run your online group meetings try to keep it concise by keeping people’s family commitments and environmental factors in mind so everyone feels seen and heard.