The current COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the economy. Business leaders are faced with unprecedented uncertainty. While the top priority for any organization is to secure sufficient cashflow to weather the storm, the next priority would be to ensure that our teams are sustained in their levels of motivation, productivity and engagement.
As a team leader, we need to make sure that our team can endure this difficult time. However, above and beyond just surviving this difficult time, our team needs to be prepared for the economic rebound after the end of this pandemic. This allows the organization to be able to differentiate itself from the other competitors in the market, and set itself on the right foot as it navigates this uncertain time.
Governments around the world have implemented extensive social distancing measures in a bid to slow down and stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As such, working from home is now inevitable and mandated in most countries. Virtual meetings, video and telephone conferencing are becoming the new normal for everyone. As a result of this, good practices have to be communicated to and established with the team so that existing levels of productivity can be maintained. These good practices will help in setting common expectations regarding work from home, thus reducing misunderstanding and miscommunication within the team.
Balancing personal and work activities is one of the key challenges for many people who are working from home. When one works in the office, there is a clear separation between personal and work activities. However, working from home may sometimes lead to an extension of working time beyond the usual hours. Over time, this creates much dissatisfaction and frustration amongst your team members.
As such, it is crucial and necessary to clearly establishing guidelines and company expectations on the working hours for the team. Team members would have to commit to sticking to the working hours, as though they are working in the office, even though they are actually at home.
Tools such as WhatsApp, e-mail, Skype, or other video and voice conferencing platforms have shown themselves to be greatly useful as an interim solution to mitigate the lack of face-to-face communication during this period of work from home. That said, they are merely tools that we need to leverage in order to maximise their utility. In order to do this, the team needs to come to an agreement regarding the preferred media of communication and the expected response time in these platforms. It might also be useful to demarcate which platforms should be used for communication regarding urgent matters, and which should be used for non-urgent ones.
Sharing Schedule and Whereabouts
As most of the team interactions currently are conducted through virtual communication, it is crucial for team members to actively share their schedule and whereabouts with one another, and inform one another when they would not be available. This would reduce the amount of time a team member need to take to look for someone else in the team.
Contrary to popular beliefs, the work from home routine actually starts when a team member washes up and gets dressed, rather than when a team member opens his or her laptop. As video conferencing becomes the substitute for office meetings, era of video conferencing, each team member is responsible for presenting themselves in a way that is appropriate to both fellow team members and customers. Establishing a dress code for work from home ensures that team members are aligned in their understanding of what is an appropriate way of presenting themselves over video conferencing.
As much of the team’s communication will now be conducted over virtual platforms, over-communication is better than under-communication. While we typically communicate over 80% of our message via body language, our ability to do this over virtual platforms is now greatly reduced. One helpful way of mitigating this lack of non-verbal communication is through the use of regular video calls. An adequate cadence via daily check-ins, weekly team meetings, one-on-one meetings, and all-hands gathering meetings has become essential.
Preparing for the rebound
No one knows how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last, much less how severe the economic downturn will be. Preparing for the rebound is key. Instead of spending our limited resources and energy on the current issues, it would be wise to start investing in the future. You can do so through the following activities:
- Keep your brand visible
- Be prepared to adjust your product offering
- Sharpen your team’s skills
Written by Sutedjo Tjahjadi
Sutedjo Tjahjadi is managing director of Datacomm Cloud Business, a business division of PT Datacomm Diangraha. Contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp +62877 0008 2888 (https://lnkd.in/fyy5Q87)