I have worked from home on and off since the late nineties and for me it is a blessing. But I have in the past seen companies be blinded by the glint of cost cutting and impose this on less willing employees.
For many companies their employees are their main asset and so to create an environment where they will not be working to their optimum productivity is counterproductive. However, today we find ourselves in enforced ‘WFH mode’ and many will struggle.
There is lots of advice online about “Make sure you get dressed every day”, “Ensure you have a designated space to work”…and so on. What I want to share with you is the need to understand that we are all different and that over time our needs may well change…and that is OK.
This group will dearly miss the water cooler banter, going out to meet suppliers and/or clients and the social lunches. For them tools such as Zoom, Skype, MS Teams and Slack will be OK but will lack that immediate interaction they seek. Managers are more likely to get more from them if they regularly call – not to check up on them but to chat and work through plans, progression and overcoming challenges.
Employees who like to get their head down and just get on with the job in some ways may be better suited to WFH. However, they present different challenges as they are more prone to isolation, worry about the future and potentially depression. For this group it is important that colleagues and managers do not leave them to their own devices but keep in regular contact by text, phone or messaging. They are easy to overlook but do still need interaction.
Although this category can cut across the two groups above and more, it is important to remember that many are having to cope with beyond extreme circumstances. Colleagues or managers may not be aware of the challenges at home they are trying to cope with. Being stuck in a small home, no garden, home schooling or babies at home, no ‘normal’ contact with families and friends, challenges of caring for older relatives, fear of unemployment, worrying about paying bills, flaky wi-fi….the list goes on. Because you may not be aware of who is struggling and who is managing, be kind and thoughtful to all colleagues. Go out your way to compliment on good work or volunteer to assist with projects. If someone is short with you on a call, don’t bite back – just pause politely and ask if it would be better to pick up the conversation another time.
We can all provide support to each other in so many ways. Normal rules no longer apply: flexible working patterns are often required, measuring on behaviours and outcomes rather than clocking in/clocking out, roles and responsibilities being fluid to adapt to the tasks in hand and making a conscious effort to be human!
In this new way of working we find ourselves in, there are some tools which can help – but bear in mind that some will take to these better than others…and that is OK!
Here are some of my recommendations:
Slack – https://slack.com/intl/en-gb/
Zoom – https://zoom.us/
Skype – https://www.skype.com/en/
WhatsApp – https://www.whatsapp.com/
Toggl – https://toggl.com/
DropBox - https://www.dropbox.com/
Doodle – https://doodle.com/en/
GoogleDrive – https://www.google.com/drive/
Touchnote postcards – https://touchnote.com/us/
We are all having to adapt, normal rules no longer apply but it is also imperative that businesses are agile and open minded in order to keep productivity as high as it can be in order to emerge in a strong position to start their recovery. We are all different and all struggle with different things. This may change over time but with a human approach we stand a better chance of long-term success.