By Hannah MacDonald | 3 minute read
Continuing measures to squash the bell curve of the COVID 19 infection rate has meant for many, a new experience, working from home! There is plenty of advice on how to work from home, to name a few:
- Allocate a dedicated workspace
- Remove distractions
- Enjoy breaks every 30-40 minutes
- Periodically check your phone, not when the light is blinking
- Have a good internet connection and cloud file storage system
- Utilise a reliable video conferencing tool
However, there is little advice on how to continue working as a team, to keep your business going forward in these exceptional circumstances.
Many people are asking, how are you finding working from home… in response the team at IM are adept at this as 50% of the time we do just that, work remotely. Given our strength in this area we wished to share some of our top tips on team engagement and also contest some fears, as many people are currently working outside their comfort zone.
Firstly, it should be stated that this is an opportunity to change, grow, and transform how business is undertaken. In a recent US study, it showed that ‘86% of employees say they are most productive when they work alone’ as there are less distractions including inefficient meetings and office chat. It is also reported that home workers benefit from reduced stress levels, are more likely to stay loyal to a company and given lack of commute, ‘give back’ the equivalent of 11 days per year, demonstrating there are plenty of positives on home working.
To take advantage of these benefits the right environment needs to be created, as noted in a recent Gallup survey a highly engaged team shows a 21% greater profitability, need we say more. So firstly –
In these times of disconnection, a concerted effort needs to be made to connect with your team, including opportunities for feedback loops. Depending on team size we suggest a weekly or twice weekly team ‘headline’ conference call of no more than 30 minutes.
This provides team members the opportunity to ‘headline’ their workload, the positives and negatives, and if any assistance is required from the group. We also suggest enabling team leaders to have weekly one to one ‘calls’ with team members for a further deep dive into workload, encouraging feedback and discussion.
We hold both of the above internally on a weekly basis and 30 minutes almost seems too much time; it is always productive and creates pointers for further ‘out of group’ engagement and collaborations.
Connecting with others is an embedded social and human normalcy. Connection gives us a sense of inclusion, interaction, safety, and community; we work and play with our tribe, it gives us our purpose.
2) Purpose and Goals
During the COVID 19 holding pattern, business continuity is a must, but this also provides an opportunity to put your business in order and set goals for the future. As Richie Norton stated ‘Tidy your business by looking at your product offerings and categorize them by putting them into value grade buckets,’ which can be continued by Marie Kondō who states ‘The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t.’
Working from home and having fewer distractions provides more time to reflect and drill down on your business goals and purpose, an opportunity to realign your business to market fit and what your brand stands for.
Take this time to undertake competition analysis alongside historic and current consumer research to find out what your business brand vision, values and positioning will be after COVID 19. Given habits take 3-6 weeks to take hold, the temporary confinement of your customers means during and on exit, their consumption behaviour will not be the same as it was pre-Coronavirus.
The knowledge you explore will produce freedom on purpose and goals; by understanding the ongoing and future customer needs provides space to develop previously unseen opportunities, to form new ways to connect with your customers and form new consumer habits.
3) Trust and Collaboration
Working from home, with increased productivity and flexibility, means that not everyone is in ‘work mode’ at the same time. Sending an email, instant message or What’s App does not equate to the instant response you are used to in a traditional office environment; this can start alarm bells ringing in your ears and frustration.
While working remotely there has to be an assumption of good intentions and trust and a clear understanding of requirements and collaboration, while utilizing the right communication methods at the right time.
A simple and effective tool to negate frustration and ensure collaboration and engagement is a shared diary, all team members noting when they are diarized to be in ‘work mode’ for example core hours of 10am till 4pm with flexi time around it, as IM do.
Never underestimate the power of personal verbal connection, picking up the phone or a quick VOIP call during core working hours increases trust and collaboration, as well as ensuring effective communication for the present and the future, and builds a further layer of engagement in your team. Out of hours send an email, but don’t expect an instant response!
These three suggestions put a strong focus on effective communication, which we trust and hope, will form new habits in your business and enhance your team’s engagement.
It’s quite simple; connect often, enable feedback loops and discussion touch points and never underestimate the power of personal verbal connection.
Contact us now and let IM help you optimize your business goals and purpose, through realigning your business to fit market changes and what your brand stands for.
To get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org