City Hive are here to support you at this uncertain time as we move, somewhat incredibly, into pandemic management. By now, you’ve probably taken the responsible action of asking your employees to limit contact and unnecessary travel. It’s critical that your staff know that their safety is paramount.
And yet, work goes on. At City Hive, we are the embodiment of agile working and so we are sharing some tips for making the most of the experience – we work flexibly with all our colleagues and according to their needs. This is a brilliant opportunity for firms to really examine how accessible their flexible working policies are and to reflect on provisions for employees who need longer-term accommodations.
The technology that allows us to answer emails later at night, or talk to other time zones, set up virtual meetings and share screens should also enable us to work from home and continue to collaborate. The key is a balance of good policy and thoughtful management.
Set the objectives – and the tone
Managers can be reluctant to enable working from home as they are often concerned about productivity, but there are good ways to manage this.
• Manager-set and clearly communicated objectives, with deadlines, should be the bedrock of any working from home policy.
• Set up regular check-ins to recalibrate expectations and address any issues that are cropping up.
• Avoid micro-managing such as requiring detailed checklists (unless of course its linked to billing) which can be counter-productive and time-consuming.
• Develop communication strategies appropriate to the individual or topic, including clarity on where immediate contact is expected. And remember, some people need more frequent check ins.
• Working hours can be more fluid but managers should make sure outputs and hours remain reasonable – some employees may need to be reminded to take a break and go offline.
Find your rhythm
A routine is going to be helpful. Identify a place or two to work with minimal distractions. Do a ‘mental commute’ to get in work headspace.
Use the opportunity to discover how you are most effective at working. Often, the morning hours are good for project work, analysis and research. This might mean non-essential emails get answered later in the morning. If possible, managers should trust the team to make sure the work gets done.
Be flexible with communication, both for different colleagues and different topics. Some people work best with email, others like the immediacy of Slack and the ability to build a community. Video calls on Zoom or Skype help maintain team spirit (but may be best for briefer meetings). And some people really need the reassurance of an old-fashioned phone call.
One of the main advantages to working from home is a cognitive work out from varying activity. In the office, people walk to the kitchen to get coffee or stand by the printer for the five-minute break. It’s okay to put some washing on or look out of the window to let your brain reset.
And embrace the possibility of a new hobby - this is a great time to work on jigsaws, learn an instrument or get painting.
For staff that have to travel or be present in a physical location, be mindful of how you can practically support them and recognise they may feel under additional pressure and risk. Ensure that they have access to hygiene equipment, food if appropriate (as cafes and shops may close). Offer flexibility on travel to avoid peak times as well as coverage if the right thing to do is for them to stay at home, and build in contingency for their need to cover caring responsibilities.
A break from the routine
It might seem like a secondary concern, but the culture of your organisation is never more important than now as staff are potentially isolated and with access to relentless news updates.
Mental health at this time needs to be prioritised. Concerns over the health and wellbeing of families and friends, and managing the practicalities of school closures or quarantine are going to place a burden on everyone.
A workplace that has clearly communicated expectations and the protections in place for staff will be best-placed to weather this. If possible, maintain activities that bring people together, albeit virtually. This can range from training or knowledge sharing sessions, employee resource group meetings, or a Slack channel to recommend YouTube yoga videos... These intermissions will help your teams to stay in touch and intact.
Want to hear more about how we can support you? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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