India is currently experiencing the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak. After over a year’s time, the vaccines are here but still, people are required to follow all the rules and guidelines. In order to stop community spread, staying indoors is the only thing that can help. Citing the present situation, life does not seem to get back to normal any time soon.
So, in this ongoing pandemic, when all your employees, core team members, and even the finance teams are working from home, it is important for you to maintain productivity at all levels. We understand that you also want to boost the morale of your team members at such a crucial time. So, here are a few action points that can help:
1. Empower Workplace
A bare-minimum requirement to work from home is a working laptop or a desktop and a strong Wi-Fi connection. At IRIS, we are the few fortunate ones who took an early call on Work-from-Home model when the first case was identified in the city, days before lockdown. Our IT team diligently worked for 3-4 days to ensure that every employee has a system. Records were prepared about the availability of systems -office or home PCs with employees. Those who did not have one were allowed to take their office pcs home. All the systems were powered with proper antivirus protection, even if it were home pcs. And VPN was provided wherever required. It was foresight at that time, I must say, and has helped us work efficiently without a dip in productivity!
Ensure your IT department is taking care of this and every employee is covered accurately. If required set up a VPN for some employees. In this technologically advanced era, work need not stop even if teams are working remotely.
2. Leverage technology
Remote working can be made easier with the use of technology. With the availability of approx. everything virtually, it is more about finding good solutions to everyday problems.
- Have a proper reporting and tracking system for all your employees and team members so they can log in and log out on time.
- If not already present, get an online attendance portal in place so your employees can easily update it on time.
- Leverage technology tools for video conferencing, document sharing, virtual meetings, and team video calls.
- Get regular updates from every department head on the workflow.
3. Facilitate communication and collaboration
As a head of the company, it is indeed necessary to be more active and participate in group discussions, especially in a sensitive situation like this where the world is going through a pandemic. You can play a significant role by sharing valuable instructions on your groups. The information can be work-related and related to the current situation that is on-going in the country. Spread awareness and be there for your employees. Your presence and active interest in the groups will help your employees keep going in these challenging times. A regular work follow-up email or message can work wonders for team productivity.
4. Plan, Prioritize and Practice
Since the team is working remotely, it gets even more important to plan and prioritize your goals. Now that you are not physically present with your teams, be clear in your communication around what do you expect on work priorities. What needs to be completed today, and what can wait, what is required by the end of the week and what you plan to be achieved this month. Break work in day wise goals, week wise goals and monthly targets so as to maximize productivity.
Prepare daily and weekly job masters if required, where your team can update their tasks completed for the day, in the week and over the month. With this, it will be easier to manage and also record the completed targets. Use online spreadsheets or other tools/software systems for the same.
You can also reprioritize your goals if necessary. Your teams might have set some goals before the COVID-19 outbreak when no plans for lockdown and the potential economic crises were foreseen. Understandably, you can re-work and reframe those goals taking valid input by your core team.
5. Prioritize Your Customers
Needless to say, your customers should also be on your priority list at this moment of crisis. There are major changes happening in the market and in general around the world. In such a situation, your customers should not feel abandoned. To ensure that they are well taken care of, the first step is to keep the communication channels open. It is indeed important to keep some time for client communication on your agenda.
Many a times, the revenue is not the only target that helps build a company; crisis times show your real brand value. Empathize; be present and available to your clients. This will go long way.
6. The ‘extra-curricular’s of Office Life
When a person spends 9 hours of her day at one place, he/she is doing more than a job. The person is making friends, connecting emotionally and ‘living’ the day. However, with WFH situation, all the communication just burns down to what is done, what needs to be done, and other job-related questions.
Create space for conversations. This will not just boost Work from Home productivity but also will take care of their mental health.
- Organize some online tea meetings, virtual team bonding sessions, online box lunches and ‘water cooler’ conversations to ensure your employees feel connected.
- Start an informal messaging channel where team members can share their weekend hobbies, along with the associated joys and ‘epic fails.’
- Create a WFH humour channel to post funny comments, incidents etc. Take care that the content must be ‘appropriate for a business context.’
7. Prioritize Your Team’s Wellness
Another important aspect that leaders must adhere to is the wellness of their employees. The world is experiencing a global pandemic plus there is a foreseen economic crisis. It is natural for your employees to be stressed and anxious. Thus, as leaders and decision-makers, you must prioritize your team’s wellness. Roll out emails that give assurance of job security to the teams, offer helplines for the emotional and mental health of your employees, start wellness initiatives like online yoga and meditation for teams and departments slot wise, open up the communication channels and so on. It is important to be sensitive and think as humans first during such situations and extend support.
8. Inculcate Learning
With the Work from Home scenario, all the employees now have some free time at hand. As the teams are not attending conferences and the traveling time is saved, they can engage in a lot of learning and skill development activities.
As a leader, you can encourage your team and employees to get involved in attending online events, meet-ups and webinars that can help them grow. Keep some time aside in their weekly schedule for the learning activity. Encourage your teams to engage into self-learning activities with videos, books, podcasts master-classes etc. The internet has a sea of value-adding material with experts waiting to help!
9. Be Updated with the Latest News
Since the economic status has changed during COVID-19, states and cities are locked down. Thus there are high chances that the government makes key changes in its policies. New financial policies, circulars and notifications need to be aptly taken into account timely. As decision-makers of the company, you need to roll out immediate information and decide the action steps. Correct information flow should be adopted and implemented.