For a long time, there have been leaders publishing arguments both for and against working from home. I’ve sat in many discussions on how disrupting and creating digital transformation across organizations will help challenge the status quo of the typical 9-5 work in office norms. Positives for WFH suggest a minimized work commute means a better work-life balance and therefore we are more productive. Argue against WFH are those who suggest this lowers productivity levels, and are less flexible on urgent projects - the list goes on.
Now companies have been thrust into one of the biggest working from home challenges with no known outcome for teams and businesses. So what does it take to get employees to effectively show up, communicate and collaborate to operate a business during a pandemic?
There has never been a more important time for Talent Leaders and Chief People Officers to accelerate, work agile and pillar adaptive processes around remote working and living. We’ve asked businesses and researched essential practices that are at the core of making a working from home culture successful.
The new normal
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic there were times at work we would worry about not being at home enough, or when we were home, worrying about not working enough. Now we see articles titled 'The Parents are not OK' with trending hashtags; #MyPandemicSurvivalPlan and #Parentsarenotok. After working in an office environment, it’s never an easy transition.
Disruption to any productivity will be the norm. It’s not uncommon to see a partner walk past the camera or hear a child shouting out in the background of a call. Yes, working from home has become personal, but we can encourage empathy and really get to know the people you are working with. When Microsoft sent their teams working from home guide, recommendations for creating moments of structure seemed to be based on building empathy towards our different lives;
- be curious and check on with others, even those you may not know
- set notifications of your availability
- dedicate a channel to share the fun (news, emojis, gifs)
At Boston Link we have built open calendars, share a team Whatsapp channel, dedicate online or out-of-hour calendar blocks. We have check-ins and schedule online gym sessions together as a standard work from home. Now HR leaders can use this time to build a culture of empathy, show where teams can ideate ideas together or even how to present yourself online. In a remote environment, all these structures can teach us that this kind of work, is ok. Deliberately guiding and documenting processes remains a critical piece in communicating and building an empathetic culture with your teams.
The new culture currency
In a distributed environment - trust has become our biggest currency. Like many others, we have created a list of tools about what and where it is best to communicate. But the reality is; what happens when you just started in a new company? Or if you are a junior getting to grips with who you need to chat with, for what?
A more junior colleague or someone who is new to working from home we learned, needs structure and support processes as a positive addition to the routine. Working with leaders and HR teams, we have seen those with a focus on purpose is linked to high performance. When teams are connected to a goal, who invariably are connected with clear sharp processes, this seems to be a faster and effective solution to gather teams and empower them. For leaders, a priority for a performing team is to encourage all but especially new and junior members to feel confident to reach out and ask questions. These will help gain wins in turbulent times.
The e-learning peak
We’ve witnessed a surge in upskilling inside organizations and using e-learning courses for team training and upskilling. Many free, ready and available. At Boston Link we've also utilized any downtime from our daily commutes or coffee breaks to use as learning time.
We've also noticed a strong shift in different departments from across the organizations, assigned tasks to help each other; marketing, sales, finance are common.
What are the best practices?
- Create clear goals
- Share success
- Maintain transparent and frequent communication
People will remember how they will be treated during this time and the opportunity to gather and lead may just help retention get stronger. Let us know if you have any ideas to share. Or speak to one of our consultants about your career or recruitment.