The World has gone to Work From Home: Where did my Productivity go?

By Ariana Smetana | Published on April 8, 2020. 

In the midst of Coronavirus, self-isolation measures and a world-wide WFH (work from home) movement, business leaders are focussed on helping their teams stay productive, motivated and engaged, while they try to operate remotely and in a virtual world.

I’m sure most of us have worked from home from time to time and were able to set up a makeshift space to work from. After all, it was just for a day or two. Most companies don’t have a set contingency plan for a continuous work-from-home model. You may not have guidelines on how to direct, coach and enable your teams. While the length of current WFH seems uncertain, as days and weeks pass it will start to feel like a new way of working.

Let us not forget, these are not regular WFH arrangements. They are not by choice and often taking place in spaces not ideally designed in one’s home. We are, also, unusually distracted by layers of anxiousness, distraction, breaking news, social media feeds, calls from friends and family, and fears about the global economy, recession, and losing jobs.

As a manager, in these early days, you can expect to see a lack of productivity and a loss of motivation. As a leader, you can address these with some simple actions.

In the first few days, we need to be proactively seeking input from staff and building a mutual trust that we’re in this together. We also need to consider the constraints they’re dealing with, with small kids, elderly at home, or not having a room or a quiet space to work from. We may need to address their WFH ‘office’ set-up, offering training on new digital tools and tips to do it well.

In the WFH set up, quiet isn’t everything. The Journal of Consumer Research reports that ambient noise can have a positive effect on creativity. An app called Coffivity offers soundtracks such as “Morning Murmur” and “Lunchtime Lounge” that encourage out-of-the-box thinking. Deep focus is better supported by silence and quiet room – but I do not have space.

Even those who are eager and ready to dive into the work from their home, they may experience some ‘where to work’ options to technical issues, loss or slow connectivity to office servers, or a slow home wi-fi connection. Many may face challenges just getting up and running with new digital communication tools or software that now needs to be developed or adopted.  

If your office servers and digital project management tools are not keeping up with the demand of working from home for all your employees, we can discuss new ways of making your company fully digitally agile. You may want to consider transitioning to cloud and developing your cloud-based tools, have your own web portals and project management software. You may need guidance on it, I have proactively partnered with savvy tech developers who are agile, offer fast and affordable software development and cloud tools that can help you quickly get your productivity and work efficiency back up to speed.  This may be an opportune time to develop a plan for what is your digital transformation strategy, now it’s the time to review your options and plan. We’re in the midst of what digital transformation of work may look like.

To maintain productivity, it’s best to start back at the beginning and re-train your team around their new ways of remote working, new workplace/home setup and expectations. Share your plans for work distribution, goals, daily and weekly tasks and reporting digital structures. Help them develop the new processes that they’ll need.

At this stage, clear and open communication is everything. Messages need to acknowledge the situation as your company sees it, provide clear HR guidelines (even if you have to develop them on-the-fly as the situation is evolving), listen to concerns and dispel the inevitable myths and fears that your team members are hearing from various news and SM sources.  

Team leads and managers need to implement remote office work routines, outline clear, turn-by-turn points by breaking down tasks and providing specific timeline expectations of what needs to be delivered.  

Everyone in the company needs to understand and buy-in what steps are to be taken in the next days and weeks, have trust in leadership that has set an anchored vision about where you are all headed, together, and how to make the best of any given day.  

I would like to know what your leadership experience has been in these first weeks of working from home. What can you share that we can all learn?


Resources: Original Article

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