Working from home is becoming more critical as companies try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and minimise the disruptive impact the current situation is having on the economic activity and financial markets worldwide.
Twitter was one of the first companies to ask its entire workforce of 5,000 employees to work remotely for the foreseeable future. In those areas in Europe where the outbreak has soared in recent days, we see how companies in traditional sectors like financial services had also encouraged remote work. Such is the case of the Santander bank asking its Madrid employees to work from home for the next 15 days in line with governments’ latest measures. With the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring the Covid-19 a pandemic and the recently announced travel restrictions, for many companies the question is no longer ‘whether’, but ‘when’ to prepare and put a structure in place to enable all employees to continue working remotely.
Communication and Technology Backed with the Organisation’s Mission
We know that keeping teams aligned is a top priority for organisations around the world right now, as they adapt their working arrangements and slow the spread of COVID-19. For many organisations across industries, the widespread adoption of remote working is a welcome change. Still, a sudden switch to remote working might impact performance as people need to learn how well they function when they are not together. In a time of technology innovation, and a central topic of our future of work, remote working is often understood as the ultimate work-life balance scenario. Realistically, remote working is a strategy that needs planning and a cultural change, to be achieved over time and embraced by each individual within an organisation.
At VIP Apps Consulting, we have an ingrained company culture of working remotely. With our employees working in on client sites, from home or our own VIP offices, across continents and time zones, in recent years we have developed best practices, processes and communications tools to support that dynamic. This is our strategic advice for remote readiness, that will help make the most of this opportunity, helping organisations analyse the meaning of collaboration and how it can improve their communication, business processes and workflows.
Establishing a remote work culture across a company requires a plan that is based and reinforced in values. While technology and tools allow your organisation to operate efficiently in remote circumstances, it is important to focus on the company’s mission and value proposition; from there, select and implement the tools that support it.
A well-communicated organisational mission can strengthen not only the business model but also fuel passion and ownership in the employees. A culture that supports flexibility provides a business with the foundation for continuous innovation. When goals and objectives are clear, employees across time zones and countries, come together and align to that vision.
Research conducted among colleagues from a variety of industries found that relationship quality was more closely tied to what it is called ‘perceived proximity’ than it was to the physical proximity, highlighting that teams with a strong group identity tend to feel closer together in all senses.
Communication and Building Trust
Encourage a relationship based on trust. The dynamics of working remotely inherently require avoiding micro-management, since you can’t see what everyone is doing all the time: an excellent opportunity to empower your team to succeed. Use the available tools as a central source of truth, so the team collaborate and can easily keep each other accountable and know who is responsible for what, no matter where each person is located.
Working in isolation can be lonely, and when we are with other people, it allows us to express human qualities, like empathy and collaboration. To keep the creativity flowing that we experience from talking to others, a good initiative could be to have ‘virtual coffee breaks’ creating the informal team catch-up over a social conference call. This idea was implemented in GitLab, where they aim to mirror an office dynamic, and even include it in the company’s handbook.
Put the Right Tools in Place
Technology enables your team to be connected from different physical locations. Selecting tools that help optimise business processes and workflows will lead to employees feeling more empowered and engaged. Leveraging tools like Microsoft Teams can help you develop a structure for staying engaged even as you work from home. This is especially important when it comes to collaborating and communicating across teams.
How Do You Stay Focused and Avoid Burn-out When Working from Home?
From a personal perspective, remote working can come with unique challenges. It can be tough to channel the same level of focus that you might have in an office environment, and being away from your team can trigger a feeling of a lack of collaboration and connection that can put productivity to the test. However, according to the American Psychological Association, when done right, remote working can actually improve employee productivity, creativity and morale.
To avoid burn-out and feel happy working from home, here are some simple tips we recommend companies include in the communication plan to help teams stay productive.
–Create your working space: while you are not meeting anybody at home, it is important to have physical surroundings that support your work concentration. A clean and clear designated working space, avoiding working from the bedroom.
–Take breaks: and if at all possible, go outside. Long periods sitting at your laptop and working without natural transitions throughout the day are not good for you. So, as you do in a regular office, get up from your desk and take breaks. Going out for a short walk is always beneficial to avoid stagnation and a feeling of loneliness.
–Stick to your schedule: as a general practice, it is essential to ensure that work stress does not follow you home. Now that you are home, it’s crucial to state an end to the workday. When you have finished with the planned tasks for that day, make sure to disconnect from your laptop, mobile and other devices. A break from the technology that enables you to work will help.
About VIP Apps Consulting
VIP Apps Consulting provide business process management and technology consulting services. We operate in the intersection of technology and business, combining deep business and industry insight with the understanding of how technology and innovation impact the industry and business model. Our unique process-driven approach and AMOBI and DELIVER proprietary methodologies deliver greater value and efficient business outcomes, minimising cost and risk. Our team has extensive experience within the leasing and financial services industry with the knowledge, capabilities and operational expertise, to help organisations assess and implement changes.
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