These days, most of us find ourselves simultaneously working from home and parenting children with no school to go to. On top of that, some of us are also managers, so we’re supposed to provide an example and calmly lead our people onward to accomplish professional and business goals.
But how do we ensure that everyone continues to deliver results in this new situation, in a time of uncertainty, remoteness, difficulties communicating and emotional stress?
In this complicated situation, employees look to their CEO in order to get answers, even if the CEO doesn’t have any.
So, let’s try to make things a bit clearer:
Our Business-Goal is to continue working productively, at the team and organizational level.
The Social-Value Goal is to support our people facing this difficult situation.
1. Evaluate the Situation:
Who are the critical teams, the core function of the company? Who are the critical employees at the moment? Who can work from home? Who can we rely on to be affective from home? The question here is not just a professional question, and it is definitely not a personal one, rather it refers to the familial and health obligations that are important to take into account in order to succeed and reach both the business and the social-value goals.
2. Work from home:
Once we’ve figured out who can work from home, we need to ask ourselves: do the employees have all the tools, knowledge, and skills necessary to work from home? If not, it is your responsibility to provide them with whatever is missing.
Understand that this is an opportunity to learn and implement Remote Work skills, which may help you as a global company, or in general, adapt to the pace of the new work world, recruiting and retaining the best people regardless of geographical barriers.
3. Identifying the challenges:
The main challenges of remote working are communication, cooperation and loneliness (Buffer Survey, Feb 2020). But today we can also add the challenge of the heavy workload put upon the employees simultaneously from their workplace and their home life.
All these challenges have been thoroughly studied in the context of space missions and space mission simulations and we can learn a lot from their results.
Space represents the ultimate frontier and a true challenge to human adaptive capabilities. Evidence from both space missions and analog missions on Earth show how isolation, frustration and the perceived inability to change things may lead to depression, negative adjustment reactions and psychosomatic problems in members of small teams. (Cognitive Neuroscience in Space. De la Torre, G., (2014). Life).
Evidence from short-duration missions has pointed to the potentially adverse impacts of scheduling too many tasks within the time available. These impacts have included conflicts between astronauts and ground control personnel, refusal to perform assigned tasks, fatigue, sleep deprivation, a decline in cognitive performance, and an increase in negative affect. (PSYCHOSOCIAL ISSUES IN LONG-TERM SPACE FLIGHT: OVERVIEW. Lawrence A. Palinkas, (2001). Department of Family and Preventative Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla CA.).
1. So, what can we do?
A. Communicate- Describe the situation and its consequences to your employees. You can say that you don’t have all the answers at the moment. It is important to document conversation and meeting and to create as much transparency as possible.
B. Define clear goals and expectations- your team's success is dependent on the accuracy and clarity of the goals provided. The goals should be specific, measurable, relevant to the organization’s goals, timely bounded and attainable; at this time, goals must be achievable at the professional level but also at the personal level, considering the complexity of the employee’s personal-familial obligations.
C. Consistency in implementing tools and methodology-whether it is a short status meeting at the beginning and ending of the day, or a longer meeting once a day and whether it’s regular short conversations or a longer personal 1:1. Either way, studies found that using the same tools and methodologies for remote work can facilitate a shared organizational language and can enhance remote employees’ levels of productivity and satisfaction.
D. Maintain a feeling of community to enhance team collaboration- Define and clarify the common goal, speak in terms of "us" (instead of them), develop self-awareness for integration and cooperation. During a meeting address all participants on the same computer screen. Acknowledge birthdays and celebrations by sending a gift or having a team celebration- even if it is remote and shorter.
For most people, it is important to continue working and generate a positive influence, even within this uncertain and stressful time.
Give your employees the necessary tools and skills, create consistency and unity, as well as communication at the team level as well as the organizational level.
Trust your people even from afar, manage their tasks and the workload considering their home obligations, and remember that this is a special situation and it is your responsibly to ensure that your people continue to be influential and happy, both now and once the dust settles.
The author is an Organizational Consultant, an expert on Management Development in global and international companies. She also lectures on management skills and Entrepreneurship at the International Space University and acts as the Director of Behaviour Science at the Israeli Space Simulation Center, D-Mars.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 19, 2020
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