The novel COVID-19 is spreading swiftly across the world – wreaking havoc everywhere, leaving only a few cities untouched. As of April 13, 2020, in Hong Kong, 645 active cases were reported with four deaths. Though the city was among those places which were able to flatten the pandemic curve, Hong Kong is bracing for a second wave of COVID-19 cases brought by people returning from overseas.
Employers in Hong Kong are asking their staff to work from home in the wake of coronavirus, just like many other cities to ensure that social distancing is maintained to prevent more infections. If you are an employer or a manager, you must definitely be looking for ways to ensure that your team stays productive while they work from home. Since the system of working from home is new to many, and as everyone is on alert these days, accomplishing tasks is not as easy as it used to be. Here are some effective steps you can follow as an employer or manager.
Let them know you trust they will get the job done. Trust matters in the workplace, even more so in this present situation. In a survey where 1,095 adult employees in the U.S were surveyed, it was revealed that as opposed to employees working at low-trust companies, employees working at high-trust companies reported:
Moreover, trust is good for morale and motivation. It can also empower ethical decision-making, increase loyalty & the willingness to stay with your company, and build teamwork and collaboration. What’s more? Trust is considered the doorway to persuasion, sharing, and developing ideas and is the key element in coaching and improving employee performance.
Trusting your employees involves allowing them to get on with their work and put in their best effort, rather than asking them to regularly check back with you. Make your team members know that you trust them to get the assigned job done to see increased productivity.
Set deadlines/assign tasks, not working hours. It is necessary to set deadlines once you assign a task but do allow flexible work timings to achieve a better work-life balance. Just don’t enforce working hours.
When you allow a flexible work schedule, your team can work when and where they are the most productive. They are also less likely to feel stressed. In a study conducted by the University of Minnesota, it was found that employees who work in flexible work schedules got better sleep, had higher energy levels, and better health, which resulted in working faster.
In another study, it was found that apart from productivity, the flexible work schedule of employees was able to boost employee morale, job satisfaction, efficiency, and overall business profitability. Yet in another study, 68% of employees with no flexible schedules said they had “unreasonable” levels of work stress, while only 20% of respondents with flexible schedules felt the same way.
Allowing your employees flexible work schedules doesn’t necessarily mean that they will grow slow and miss deadlines. In fact, the opposite might seem to be true.
Keep your team’s group chat active and light-hearted. Building ideas is easier when you work together in the same physical space, but effectively communicating remotely is possible as well. You can employ chat tools for better team communication. And keep the group chats active and light-hearted.
Though the news around is grim, you don’t have to focus on the current negative appearances and discuss it with your team. Show a positive attitude to allow your team to catch the vibe. It is easier said than done but try to look at the funny side of life and find things to laugh about. Check that the chat tools you are using allow you to assign tasks, share files and, embed photos or other types of media through the applications for web, mobile, or desktop computers. Keep it active. You can provide status updates timely via a project management tool. If you are going to send formal requests or action-related items, send them via email.
Check up on them but don’t micromanage. Don’t disappear for days after you assign a task. You need to check up on your team but refrain from micromanaging them. There are many risks associated with micromanaging your team. Micromanagement will eventually lead to a breakdown of trust between you and your team. When trust is gone, you will witness a loss of productivity and even loss of employees.
Bear in mind that trust is a two-way street. Your team should trust you as much as you trust them. Micromanagement destroys the relationship. When you micromanage your team, your team will become too dependent on you. They won’t show the confidence to perform tasks on their own as your team may feel like they need your constant guidance.
When your employees are dependent, it will take more of your time and effort to manage. You will have a team that only knows how to do what it’s told. Give your employees the freedom to think and act on their own. It will encourage innovation, which is the key to progress.
With the COVID-19 causing anxiety and fear in the minds of everyone, it is not easy to concentrate on work and put in the best efforts. As an employee or a manager, you can try and make the lives of your employees better by managing them efficiently while they work from home.
Boosting their morale by letting them know you trust them, setting flexible working hours, keeping conversations and chats light-hearted, and refraining from micromanaging are surefire ways to ensure that your employees stay productive while they work from home.