The new normal during this COVID era is working from home. Most organizations have already adapted to this, and its business as usual, but in this piece, we highlight 10 things that employers should do to make the entire experience worthwhile for both the organization and the employees.
For some great tips on how you can make the most out of your working from home as an employee, you can read our write up on that here.
But this write-up is on how employers can help and support their employees to get great work done from home.
Tip 1: Provide the Necessary Tools and Equipment
As an employer, you should provide your staff with the necessary tools to work such as an official laptop, good internet connection and even a stipend to buy credit for phone calls. A laptop may be necessary because not all staff may possess, one and some staff may not have a good one. If serious work is required, good tools are imperative.
The company can get a group arrangement from any of the internet service providers to ensure that staff have access to uninterrupted data. The same goes for call credit, an agreed amount can be set to enable the staff call the office whenever the need may arise.
Some staff have complained about the epileptic power supply, so it may be helpful for the company to invest in good power banks, to handle power outages and/or agree on a further stipend for the staff to purchase fuel for their generators.
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Tip 2: Establish the Rules of Engagement
Now that the staff has been equipped there is no excuse not to work. The next step is to establish the rules of engagement. Some of the things you may wish to consider and agree upon are as follows;
What will be the resumption and closing times?
Lunch hour and breaks?
When will you have check-ins and meetings?
How flexible will work be?
When will you as a manager or supervisor have one-on-one meetings and followups?
What will be the major form of communication etc?
What should happen in an emergency?
Tip 3: Set Clear Deliverables and Timelines
Staff should know exactly what is required and when it must be done. So it's okay to allow for flexibility but set clear deliverables so the staff can work at their own pace but you can still ensure work gets done. This also helps you as an employer measure productivity and effectiveness, more especially when you are not there to physically monitor what's going on.
Tip 4: Make Use of Collaborative Tools
There are lots of collaborative tools available, make use of them so you can constantly keep in touch with your team. Slack and Microsoft Teams enable document sharing and collaboration that ensures productivity. If your staff are not familiar with them, then you can hold a brief training session, they are pretty straight forward and easy to use.
Tip 5: Don't Have too many Meetings!
The fact that online meetings are fast and effective does not mean that as an employer you should go overboard with numerous meetings such that the staff never get enough time to do the actual work. Make use of other forms of collaboration as much as possible, chat features, mail etc and communicate as frequently as may be required. A lot of issues can be resolved through chat, meetings should only be held when they are absolutely necessary.
Tip 6: Try to Schedule Fixed Times for your Meetings
This will help the staff plan their time well. It further enables them to prepare any documentation that may be required ahead of time which can then be sent out to attendees before the meeting commences. This makes the meeting shorter and deliberations richer.
Tip 7: Manage Meetings Effectively
Be disciplined with time and focus during the meetings. Meeting time is not jisting time, though there should be time for that which we have talked about below, try and keep the discussion focused on the matter at hand, this will help save time and data.
Tip 8: Show Empathy, Allow for Social Interaction
Each time you collaborate or communicate with your staff, don't make it about work alone, show some empathy and ask after their welfare, their family. Find out if they are having challenges and offer assistance where you can. Many people are disoriented by the effects of the virus and need encouragement and reassurance. Show the human side of management, and also allow for peer to peer interaction. There may be issues the staff is experiencing that they would not want to share with HR, but would willingly open up about to their colleagues.
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Tip 9: Encourage Staff to also have Fun!
All work and no play, they say, makes Jack a dull boy! So staff have been working hard, so bring a bit of fun into the equation to let off steam. You could organize a watch party movie night, where staff can gather around their TV's/systems along with their families and a giant bucket of popcorn to collectively watch an online movie.
Remember also to celebrate birthdays, newborn baby arrivals and other social occasions and events of your staff. People should be made to feel as appreciated and as comfortable as possible regardless of the fact that you are not physically in the office. Singing happy birthday for staff just before you start a zoom meeting can be very uplifting.
Tip 10: Create an Avenue for Honest Feedback
Always be open to honest feedback, are there things that you as a manager or as an organisation can do better or differently to help the staff work better? It's not always about money, so be open-minded. Are there new tools, software, apps, etc that could enable staff to work smarter and more effectively? Always encourage your staff to bring new ideas forward.
Written by Lady Shayo Imologome
Business Growth Strategist, Management Consultant, and Keynote Speaker