Every business has been forced into the largest work-from-home experiment in the world. And while every organisation will have their unique challenges and remedies to this, business owners the world over will need to adapt fast.
The thing that will remain a constant throughout shutdown and the months following, as our country grapples with the pandemic, is for business owners and managers to understand what they need from employees to ensure productivity levels do not drop drastically.
Frank Mullen, CEO of Zinia provides some vital tips to stay on top of managing people your biggest asset, your employees remotely.
Define and refine
Define what the outcome/objectives are that you want from each department/employee. This process will have the added advantage of understanding what you want to achieve as a business.
Define the workflow on how you expect this to be achieved.
Define the measurements that you will be using to ensure that outcome/objective is being achieved.
Use technology as far as possible to assist in measuring outcomes, productivity and activity.
Communication is key
Clearly communicate the workflow and measurements to your managers/employees. At a time like this, more clear, consistent and personal communication is vital to the well-being of your employees, who may be feeling vulnerable or displaced.
Let them know you care but demonstrate sound and positive leadership. Show them how you plan for the business to adapt, communicate what you expect and the outcomes, and lead everyone forward.
Establish a routine
Create a daily routine for check ins, meetings, reporting, as well as collaboration. To ensure time is used productively, define what meetings will cover and what information is required from them.
Provide guidance to employees
Allow time for adoption of this new way of working and coach employees along the way if they require it. Working from home comes with the challenges of interruption from kids, loneliness and many other distractions. Give your employees as much support as they need to do their work differently as they adjust to the new normal.
Dedicated workspace at home
Encourage employees to set up a dedicated workspace at home. It is proven that a tidy, organised workspace has a positive impact on psychological wellbeing and therefore productivity.
Maintain personal communication
Have video meetings so that employees can have regular face-to-face interactions. Support employees with the tools and guidance they need to get the job done as effectively as possible. Help them to think differently as you may need to challenge employees who do not like to go outside their comfort zones. Use video for sensitive conversations, do not use voice only or you will come across as very impersonal.
Manage productivity positively
As business owners or managers, we understand and expect that people will be mature enough to get on with the Job. While outcomes-based managing is good for some people, most people still need to know that they are somehow being measured.
A productivity tool can be your invisible work from home manager and is an incentive for staff to stick to a work ethic, as they are aware that they are being measured.
Your discretion as to the outcome versus activity will need to be used; for example, if the outcome is achieved but activity is low, maybe the employee can take on some more outcomes-based goals.
One thing is for certain though, a productivity tool will highlight who is working and who is not, and your staff will be acutely aware of that.
Zinia noted a doubling of productive work with its teams since implementing a productivity management tool.
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