A long-term response

Global crises are always challenging to navigate. When the time for immediate response passes, we have to dig in for the long haul.

Factors that influence operations going forward will be unique to each company. Remote work may continue to play a bigger role than it did before the pandemic. The emphasis is more on employees' mental health and well-being.

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Career

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Be proactive in asking employees how they're doing and what's holding them back. That way, you will know you're responding in the right way at the right time.

  • If you don't have information from staff, start with a comprehensive survey. Find out if they have an appropriate workspace and reliable internet access at home.
  • Do they also care for children? Parent? These can have a psychological impact.
  • Inquire about their emotional state. Do they feel connected to their team? Are they lonely at home?
  • Try to get a view of their ability to collaborate with teammates effectively. Video calls and virtual whiteboards may be a steep learning curve.
  • Part of the response is to hold performance and growth check-ins to acknowledge the contribution each employee is making and help them manage their longer-term professional goals.
  • Err on the side of overcommunicating. Create a communication plan and be consistent. E.g., a daily email from the heads of each unit, or video messages from the CEO. Share even the bad news, to prevent employees from inventing their own stories to fill the void.
  • Keep a tight feedback loop. Know how your employees are coping, how their work is affected, and how they think leadership can help.
  • Be mindful of the resources you're consuming. Don't consume additional masks, disinfectants, and other supplies that hospitals need.

Employees' health and well-being should come first. There may be a perceived choice between productivity and well-being. But, engagement is a natural by-product of well-being.

People are worried about health, job security, their kids' education, life on the other side of the crisis. Micro-managing will not create focus. Tactics like time-tracking software will only compound the problem. Instead, focus on easing their fears. The more distractions we as leaders can clear away, the more effective our people will be.

An employee-driven approach lets you change policies and practices in a way that is informed by data and not a gut feeling.

You may never get a holistic understanding of your company's health unless you have a conversation with your employees. They will know how you cared for them and made them feel. In turn, that will inform how engaged they are in the long run.

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If and when you return to your office after the pandemic, you'll probably notice some changes.

  • The doors of the building may open automatically, so you don't have to touch the handles.
  • You may tell the elevator where to stop, rather than pressing buttons.
  • You may walk into a room full of dividers and well-spaced desks.
  • Meeting rooms and kitchens may have fewer chairs.
  • There may be more frequent cleaning policies and better ventilation systems.

This is the end of the office as we know it

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There is ongoing turbulence in the workplace due to the uncertainties provided by the new virus, resulting in a whole lot of people working from home. Normally the work-from-home policies are established in advance, and employees are trained for the same, but current circumstances are not allowing for any transition time.

A Guide to Managing Your (Newly) Remote Workers

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Longing For The Office Culture
  • Earlier a privilege for a few, work from home became a norm for most office-goers due to the ongoing pandemic and is likely to remain for the rest of the year.
  • The shift towards work from home, which became necessary for most companies, was thought to be blissful in the minds of employees, while the bosses viewed it with suspicion.
  • Employees are slowly finding out that it is lonely sitting in front of the screen at home and are missing the office culture, the sharing of ideas and socializing with fellow employees.

The quiet, grinding loneliness of working from home

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