In some ways, it is hard to believe that we are heading into the sixth week (more in some regions) of a “safer-at-home,” “essential/non-essential,” and “social distancing” existence. In other ways, the past five weeks has seemed more like five months. Through it all, however, many companies are discovering that it is possible to adjust to and overcome operational challenges – even those brought on by global pandemic.
One positive outcome is an urgent focus on business processes to discover new, more streamlined ways of empowering employees to meet client needs and continue to operate. Rather than send employees home to wait things out, companies have discovered (out of necessity) that productive and meaningful work can indeed be done remotely – even by those never considered to have the option.
Gallup substantiates this “newer” reality and provides much needed guidance for leaders managing a suddenly remote workforce. A recent Gallup article by Jennifer Robison provides several salient points which address the challenges leaders are facing.
Time refers to these leaders as joining the “World’s Largest Work-From-Home-Experiment,” without the preparation or experience other companies have had. Robison advises 1) individualization to increase productivity and alleviate emotional concerns, 2) clear expectations, and 3) consistent and specific communication.
Gallup found that 43% of U.S. employees work remotely some or all the time, a number that has continued to increase throughout the past decade. During the years between 2012 and 2016, the number of remote workers grew by four percent, which represents millions of workers. Therefore, today’s remote workforce is the “newer” normal – as it was already becoming standard for almost half of the working population.
As Robison points out, COVID-19 will not be an issue forever – but remote work will be. Developing a strategy for maintaining culture, values, and employee engagement will be vital to growth and success.