This authored article by Akshay Sharma – Co-Founder, SCIKEY originally published in The Economic Times
Over the past two decades, with the exponential growth in technology, the average quality of human relationships with one another seems to have degraded at a drastic rate. It is not uncommon to be sitting with your friends and office colleagues for several hours, without speaking a word, while being fixated to a 6-inch screen. Covid-19 has given us some time to reflect upon our current lifestyle work culture and improve it to suit the future of work. With 64% of millennials preferring to work from home as per a PWC research and global remote workforce expected to increase significantly year on year, companies must accept this reality act.
Owing to the uncertainties presented by Covid-19, many companies seem to be scrambling. The majority of the global workforce is not yet used to a culture of remote working. There are several challenges, such as the psychological impact of isolation, inefficient communication, distractions at home, limited access to information, lack of team spirit, and many more. The crisis has not allowed the establishment of clear remote-work policies and training in advance. Establishing a remote working culture might be new for organizations and employees, but can be mastered with some existing research-based practices.
Below are seven steps that employers can work upon, with managers employees, to master remote work management:
- Real Leadership: Leaders need to take full responsibility for binding and to inspire their team members to pursue their collective vision. By being humble honest, they can support their team members by sharing information transparently and reduce fear arising from uncertainty.
- Extra-Communicate: Organizations should enforce policies to engage the workforce through multiple communication channels with smooth information sharing. Setting fixed meeting timings for regular updates can help everyone to be mentally prepared and stay in sync.
- Digital Bonding: Team members can set aside some time daily for informal conversations, to connect at an emotional level. Other methods such as real-time online team quizzes or games, the weekly team get together, virtual parties can induce collective effervescence, making people come along with this shared sense of unified purpose.
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- Personalized Management: Employees have different personalities that demand different management styles for generating the best results. For example, highly extroverted people would look for tasks that require regular team interactions or face to face video conferencing, whereas highly creative people would be energized by challenging tasks. Managers should encourage team members to lead during the meetings to enhance individual participation, especially the silent team members who tend to hesitate while communicating. Managers should understand the key driving factors and use these to act accordingly, to enhance individual productivity.
- Prioritization: There is a risk of being overwhelmed with too much digital communication for employees working from home. So, right prioritization is the key to tackle this. Managers should work with their team members to set clear goals, defining coherent actions for achieving these, and creating best practices such as using the calendar as part of proactive team culture.
- Culture of Understanding: Organizations should create a culture of understanding, with human values at the core, by encouraging practices that can build a strong bond among employees. A culture that encourages employees to support one another and encouraging simple practices such as expressing gratitude towards others can counter the adverse effects of isolation or depression, due to the release of oxytocin, as per research studies. Teams can organize a dedicated ‘Listening Session’ weekly, wherein everyone patiently listens to others, thereby allowing people to open up. When the physical human touch is not possible, a strong culture with trust and understanding at its roots can go a long way in supporting the organization, in achieving its goals.
- Encourage Balanced Lifestyle: Organizations should motivate the employees to follow a healthy lifestyle. Research has shown that isolation can increase cortisol levels, thereby inducing stress and just a 20-minute walk in nature, can reduce levels of this hormone significantly. Simple practices such as daily exercise, staying hydrated, taking regular breaks and planning for the next day before sleeping could be instrumental in maintaining higher energy levels, and boosting productivity. Employers can arrange individual sessions for employees over video conferencing, with councillors, doctors, dieticians, health well-being experts, to provide the right interface to the employees for tackling isolation.
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