Wow– what a difference a week makes. It feels like the world has shifted on its axis. The outbreak of Covid-19, or Coronavirus, is accelerating changes in our daily lives as quickly as it’s spreading through the global population. Following government advice, many companies are now asking their teams to work remotely, and for many this is for the very first time.
A fortnight ago, we at Executives in Africa collected our laptops and took whatever equipment we needed to make working at home as comfortable and seamless as possible. The team all rolled their sleeves up, with one of our MDs, Sarah, even driving a van around to ensure items like high backed office chairs, desks, second monitors and laptop risers were delivered to those who required them.
We were lucky, as our Search Process and all the backup operational project management systems were all originally designed for remote working when our founders, Richard and Sarah, started EIA from two different locations ten years ago. Many tech companies and start-ups that already offer remote and flexible working options as ‘the norm’, will see far less disruption to their businesses operationally.
However, for many others, this is new territory and it is likely to be challenging, particularly if it’s unfamiliar. This is clearly an unprecedented new chapter in the world’s history, so how do business leaders adapt to ensure that they get the best out of their employees and support them to stay positive?
Humans are creatures of habit and we prefer to stick with what we know. The rapid intensity of change could easily translate into resistance and low productivity but with simple measures we can all stay positive and work effectively from home, ensuring great output is maintained. Making certain your employees have the right environment to work in is key, so if possible, recreate their ‘normal’ working environment as closely as possible. Our team have been recreating their office set ups at home effectively and easily, ensuring normal business is maintained and our clients are well looked after as usual.
Encouraging your team to keep to a normal routine, which includes not staying in your pyjamas, is essential. The “dress for success” attitude isn’t just a corporate catchphrase – it really matters when you work from home. Psychologically it gets you into the right mindset for work, by keeping as normal a daily routine, as possible. This is great for mental well-being and promotes a positive mindset each working day.
The author, Mark Sanborn, once said, “In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly”. Working remotely really puts this into focus.
Effective communication is the difference between your business thriving or finding a future path more difficult than originally planned, during this unsettling period in our lives. Setting out a plan laying out how best to ensure optimal communication is so important.
Short daily catch up meetings together at the end of each day helps to bring the team together and briefly share a part of each other’s lives, aside from discussing the needs of the business, as concisely and effectively as possible.
As we touched on earlier, mental wellness should be constantly assessed at this time, as much as physical wellness. Try and find some dedicated time to “meet” privately with each team member so they can share status updates, receive coaching, and perhaps discuss developments from their personal life. This in turn really helps build sustainable positivity, rather than leaving a feeling of isolation from the outside world.
Working remotely may bring you closer together as a unit in ways you would not have considered possible before. And, when the day is done, shut down your laptop, set your work technology to “away,” and close your home office door. Live as normal a life as possible away from ‘the office’. Sit back and relax in the evenings knowing that you and your team will keep thriving accordingly.