Making Working from Home, Work
One of the twists and turns of 2020 was the working from home phenomenon. Until there are satisfactory vaccination levels, we can bank on having Marty McFly ‘Back to the Future’ moments with continuous working from home government mandates. Many large businesses adopted a hybrid-working model a long time ago and had the systems and processes to quickly implement it on a large scale. But for small to medium businesses, the process was a mixed bag of success. In my experience, most were able to implement the change quickly but weren’t confident in the long-term success.
Research collated by Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI, November 2020) highlights, 35% of managers believe productivity was improved but 57% think there was no change when it comes to the remote working model (link to research).
Although this is valuable research and great to consider, it isn’t small to medium business focused. So I looked at anecdotal evidence within my client group. The challenge they have is how to effectively manage a remote workforce to guarantee productivity while still meeting employee expectations because, remote working isn’t going away.
So why have there been difficulties? The traditional leadership style within Australia is managing via sight; if I can see you at your desk/workstation/factory floor, you are working. Of course, we all know that isn’t true but when your workforce has to move to remote working, it’s a huge challenge for our leaders, and I’m talking more than trust (but this is a big one). Given that that top talent is looking for more flexible working arrangements and a huge investment in remote workplaces has been made, how do we make it work?
Understand the individual’s working styles
Let’s be honest here. Success in a hybrid working model is fundamentally based on two-way trust and that is all about personality. Understanding personality goes a long way to understanding how someone gains and maintains trust. This, my friends and colleagues, is the one thing you need to get right. I use DiSC profiling and it is magic to make your working relationships, well just work. Working from home will suit some personality types just like working in an office suits others and managing remotely will be a dream for some but hell for others. Unless you understand the differences in personality types, you will be leading blindly.
Manage via outcomes, not sight
This is a fundamental shift in managing people. Your systems need to be outcomes-focused and able to be measured via outcomes/results. Set up meetings and conversations to talk about results and the roadblocks to achieving them. Establish KPIs that are directly linked to business results and can be easily understood and measured.
Train your leaders
Managing a remote workforce is a different way to manage and lead. Ensure your leaders feel equipped to manage remote workers. More importantly, make sure you, as a business owner, feel equipped to do the same. The key to a high performing business is people management excellence. The only way to grow sustainably is through working with your people to find new and innovative ways to do things. That is through your people leaders. Give them the coaching and skills to apply changes in the workplace.
Want to do a quick management skills ‘selfie’? Check out our Management in the Spotlight giveaway. The management assessment is towards the back.
Set up regular face-to-face communication
In reality, we will have a hybrid model of working from home and in the office so there will still be an opportunity to have ‘water cooler’ chats. However, you need to maximise your face-to-face time so book in regular operational and well-being catch ups with your direct reports. Having that time booked can allow non-urgent tasks or discussion to be held off until the next meeting.
Set up Working from Home Policies
As boring as they may be, or policies for policies sake, setting out boundaries and expectations for both employees and managers is vitally important. Policies should cover security (both software and hardware), health and safety considerations and rights and obligations of both parties. It doesn’t have to be war and peace but these areas do need to be outlined. It is an extension of the workplace so should be treated that way.
Set up structured collaboration time while in the office
As highlighted by the AHRI research, 20% of remote workers struggled with collaboration and loneliness, so having structured collaboration time booked in when in the office is important. This means having the right people in the office at the right time. Allowing staff to arrange collaboration time which may mean changing office days and having a space to facilitate that collaboration. Additionally, having outcomes and KPIs that require collaboration will support this.
Have an EAP process
With 2 out of 5 remote workers reporting they feel stressed all or most of the time, it is important to have an Employee Assistance Program set up within your workplace (employer-funded counselling). This can be set up as a pay as you go and can be very low cost with high rewards. I can put you in touch with an amazing provider.
Achieving all of this in hybrid model (working from home and in-office working) is not an easy process to master. Our consulting and training expertise can become an integral part of your overall HR processes to help you reduce your people headaches. Book in the HR help you deserve.
Hi! I'm Melissa
I'm a sought-after HR coach, advisor and strategist. I'm also the director of Exceler8. My clients call me their people paracetamol because I help them say 'goodbye' to HR headaches and 'hello' to the perfect people formula to support their business. If you're ready for HR help or transformation, please get in touch.
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