Almost half of all employees in the American workforce are currently working from home, as gleaned from data published in an April 2020 MIT survey. This means that businesses are having to find new ways to connect and maintain or even improve efficiency during the current health crisis. Improving efficiency is a constant process, involving everything from cost reduction to better utilization of company resources, improvement of working conditions, and reducing one’s carbon footprint. These are lofty aims that often require big changes to business process management. While teams are working remotely, however, it is possible to improve efficiency without shaking the status quo too much.
Why Take Baby Steps?
People are overworked and stressed, spending about three hours longer on work tasks and skewing their work-life balance, according to Bloomberg’s Michelle Davies. Therefore, major reassignments of roles and changes in procedure should perhaps be left until later. Savvy managers can effect small changes and welcome feedback from employees without emphasizing goal orientation. Steps taken should be easy to effect and well explained, with employees receiving online or live video training if required.
Making Time Count
As mentioned, many workers feel as though are being overworked during the health crisis, like they always need to be ‘on call’ even beyond their usual shift. Managers can ensure that tasks are completed in a timely fashion by using time tracking software that allows them to estimate project times and ensure that employees’ conditions are respected. Time tracking also allows managers to obtain a better picture of how time is being spent and enables them to process payroll and invoices quickly and with a lower error rate. Managers should additionally be open to requests for further time if required to meet reasonable goals.
Setting Up Scheduled Video Conference Calls
Communication platforms such as Slack enable teams to work on projects in a seamless, immediate fashion and to create smaller groups and channels. Written communication isn’t always complete, though. Managers can benefit by scheduling video calls via Zoom or Google Meet, so they can run through small doubts, queries, suggestions, and feedback from team leaders and (if a business is small enough to make it time-efficient) from individual employees.
Technical Support is Key
Cybersecurity is vital for remote teams, which are more vulnerable to hacking owing to the fact that company data is being used on a wider array of personal devices. Employees should be fully supported in the transition towards better home equipment cybersecurity. They should have online and (if possible) live training on aspects such as installing firewalls, anti-viruses and VPNs, and on setting safe passwords.
Encouraging Wellness Initiatives
Employees are stressed and worried about the future. Helping them improve their health and wellness can increase employee productivity, but also create an optimal corporate culture and heightened employee loyalty. You might, if you like, choose one day a week (perhaps Friday afternoon) to give employees time off, suggesting that this time be spent doing an online exercise session or pursuing a mindful activity such as yoga or meditation. Set up a group chat, with each employee telling you what activity they took part in that day.
Millions of people are having their first taste of remote working during the current health crisis. Many are stressed and overworked, which is why improving efficiency through time management, online training, and live calls are vital. Companies should understand this is a sensitive time, and that changes need to be non-threatening and relatively easy to effect, to avoid over-stressing teams.