As part of our The Diversity Dilemma of COVID-19 series, we asked Euclides Marin, Director of Business Development at Nakisa to share his top tips on maintaining business as usual in the new normal. This is what he had to say.
Define your reporting structure
To ensure productivity, you need to deeply understand where your workforce is located and who they report to in a remote world. Defining teams and reporting structure is incredibly important in a world where you can’t just walk over to a manager’s desk. This way, you can identify and address productivity and performance issues clearly and fairly that follows reporting structures.
The organisational design also becomes an essential element to ensure clarity and direction for HR teams and employees. It also allows for strategic planning down the line as current events unfold.
Set up appropriate communication channels
It’s time to ensure you have the right communication channels and a strategy that enables everyone to be connected. Technology and collaboration tools are powerful resources for enabling productivity and companies should be looking to implement appropriate solutions.
Encouraging employees to turn on video during calls allows participants to remain present, focus on the task at hand, and maintain a human connection. Communication during crisis management is fundamental. Frequent HR Updates with remote work recommendations will help keep normality in the virtual workspace.
These updates can provide useful benefits and hotlines for emotional and physical support, promoting healthy habits like exercise and entertainment as a way to keep people engaged and safe. We will start to see more reports on the need for grief management as employees are adjusting to losing daily human interactions, e.g. employees depending on the workplace for social connections because they live by themselves.
Early reports also indicate that virtual social interactions within individual teams have massively increased. Still, particular attention should be paid to formalising and providing clear channels for a diverse group of individuals to engage with each other. We recommend setting up digital, interest-based social spaces for employees to connect, similar to the “game room” we see in tech companies.
Offer flexible work options
It’s important to be sensitive to employee engagement and changing workplace preferences. We need to remember that we have been disrupted and forced to start discussing what the next normal could entail and how different it will be from our current lives. Support your employees by being sensitive to changes and check in on what their work preferences look like.
Offering flexible work options will go a long way in ensuring everyone remains productive by providing a buffer for families with young children, and even preventing potential stress-related mental health issues. Although working from home has been the initial response to the implementation of social distancing by health professionals, we will need to be more proactive in our transition and think about the longer-term impact of this lifestyle over four to six months. We know this lifestyle change can provide some workers with an opportunity to stay healthy and productive.
Many businesses are reporting surges in productivity which could lull the community into a false sense of security, as we are yet to see the long-term effect of totally working and living in isolation. The individual challenge, and one shared by HR, is to strike the right work-life balance in this new virtual world, avoiding emotional and productivity burn out.
Review HR policies and benefits
Not only has a ton changed when it comes to how your employees are working, but a lot has also changed in their personal lives. It’s important to revisit and review HR policies and benefits including furlough, sick leave and bereavement time. In the following weeks, we will start seeing the effect of the emergency packages directed to keeping payroll running for a while, direct cash to individuals, tax incentives, etc.
Regardless of these measures, companies are going through their business continuity considerations. One of the business continuity steps is to classify the workforce into essential, temporarily suspended and extended suspended employees to keep minimum or maximum or even growth capacity (depending on how the pandemic has affected their demand).
Those employee categories will need different HR policies and benefits. For example, essential workers required to be available under all circumstances will need to be supported, considering the possible pandemic effects of family members being sick, impact on transportation and other personal issues. On the other hand, temporally suspended or extended suspended employees will need a clear path to come back to work or not, and a different channel of communication will be required.