The pandemic is raging and it’s as if the new normal never existed. The drastic situations that are emerging day by day are compelling businesses to take a long hard look at how to pare costs while keeping the same level of service, products and ensure business continuity. he sheers losses as organizations and businesses emerge into the post 2020 scenario (and it is not at all over yet – the 2nd wave is upon us) they are struggling to cope with the massive onslaught of uncertainty and change.
The organizational, business oriented and team-centric changes that are necessary to ensure that the business continues to function. Whatever previously was taken for granted – Systems, routines and scenarios have been tossed out of the window – newer ways to cope, function and ensure efficiency are being fast-tracked. WFH is back with a vengeance and remote working is picking up pace. Though amidst strict hygiene, preventive sanitation & health protocols, remote working is different from working in the office and organizations witness professional & personal spaces overlapping. Amidst this fluid scenario, leaders are scrambling to make order out of chaos, to get things operating smoothly again. There are core priorities that need to safeguard – much like protecting your brand with a logo trademark registration. Business leaders need to realize that there is no pre-set norm that will help cope with this crisis, and they need to evolve responses as they move forward.
Against this backdrop there are some basic tactics that leaders need to mainstream into their mindsets. These may help them cope more efficiently:
Accept that Pre-covid days are gone
For leaders to think that this will come back to normal, and business will smoothly revert to what it was earlier: is a monumental error. Too many leaders are in fact perhaps thinking that the Pandemic is not all that huge a problem – the sudden shift to remote working went quite well and people are adapting. But it is not that simple – client, customer and employee concerns need to be addressed, and all at the same time. Moreover, after a long exhausting 2020, in 2021, people who have transitioned relatively smoothly, miss the office scene: the small breaks, face to face meetings, etc. But – those days are gone, and we do not know when they will be back again: if at all. Thus, leaders need to accept and plan accordingly. Initiating changes that will serve the organization, business and the teams will need to be kickstarted – and adapted to fit the situation. Interestingly, in the United States, more than 70 percent of jobs can’t be done offsite. Similarly, globally, in varying degrees, there will be tasks and work that will need physical presence of employees and protocols to ensure safety & efficiency both, will need to be evolved and implemented. Remote work isn’t a panacea for today’s workplace challenges, such as training, unemployment, and productivity loss.
Evolving Work Protocols:
The culture of WFH and remote working go much beyond merely just giving team-members a laptop, having zoom calls and assigning work over emails. Most people agree fully that many of the norms and routines of work life in office just cannot be recreated – 1 particularly. Earlier the norm was that – once you left the office, the work for that day was over. But now, with WFH and remote working, as a client told us, “It’s not so much working from home; rather, it’s really sleeping at the office.”
To ensure successful experiments in working from home and for remote working to be sustainable, companies need to assist their staff create those boundaries: if something can be resolved by a quick phone call, a video conference should not be used. Setting regular office hours will help, besides tracking time & deliverables. Set rules that after a particular hour, no one is expected to answer emails.
Be open to change- collaborate, include, and stay flexible:
A huge trend that has become mainstream is, people are accepting that things will need to be changed. For years together, experts and leaders have been speaking of the need for Collaboration, flexibility, and inclusion, but nothing much has been done by way of action. Now is the time to embrace change, collaborate, include team-mates in discussions & work. now is the time being flexible in approach and bring in changes for the sustainability in operations. This is the best opportunity to try out organizational changes, new work patterns & approaches, systems, etc… The idea is – why not seize the chance and usher in change when it is best required? Since WFH is already a norm, try to build networks online – because the traditional office life has broken down. No more water cooler meetings, no informal interactions, no boss sitting in one corner with the tech team in their own silo. With instant accountability with supervisors keeping an eye on the room. Maybe it is worth trying to build similar informal interactions.
The Pandemic is here to stay for the near future and organizations have to accept that – leaders will need to step up and assume responsibilities that involve driving change. Changes that will impact business continuity, employee morale and revenue. Certain tactical approaches can help remove obstacles to change and ensure a smoother transition. In turn, this helps drive the business agenda and reduces fiction in the teams.