Today's post is submitted by our board member Raciel Sosa. He is CEO of Leadex Solutions, a leadership development firm based on the Vital Smarts© model and methodology. Here he offers four recommendations on how to make working from home work for your organization.
In today's world, we have all the technological and digital tools to allow many of us to perform most of our professional activities remotely. However, there are still many organizations that have yet to “take the leap” to adopt a Work From Home (WFH) model. All that has changed with the current COVID-19 pandemic and many organizations that may have resisted working from home in the past have now been forced into it.
So, what can organizations do to implement a productive WFH strategy?
- Focus on results. When working face-to-face with an employee, a manager has many elements that enable them to evaluate an employee's performance (punctuality, cordiality, good relationship with the work team, etc.). When the performance evaluation period arrives, each of these factors can carry weight (sometimes even unconsciously), even if the collaborator did not achieve the required results. But when the individual is not close by, the most important factor that the manager can judge is whether the employee achieved the results desired. This may feel like a step back, but it can actually be an asset. A company becomes very efficient when it evaluates its personnel based on results, under a model of management by objectives, where employees know that no one is calculating how many hours they worked.
- Clearly define employee objectives. Rather than focusing on telling employees what to do on a daily basis, organizations should communicate with employees about what they should try to achieve long-term and how it is going to be measured. Most well-run organizations are already doing this and have employees executing against yearly goals and objectives. If your organization is not yet in this boat, work with your employees to establish clear objectives and measurement now to best position your people and the overall organization for success.
- Train managers. For WFH to work, managers must learn how to delegate, supervise and provide feedback to their people remotely. Whether it's phone calls, teleconferences or even, eventually and if safe, in-person meetings. Find creative ways to help managers learn how to effectively manage remotely. Maybe you already have a manager at your organization who has been doing this successfully - have that person provide an online training to other managers who are new to WFH or look into other remote learning possibilities to help managers improve these critical skills.
- Communicate with employees. It is important that managers ask employees how they are feeling under this new working model. Especially in the times we now find ourselves, situations will not always be ideal - with multiple people working from home in limited space and children home from school in many cases as well. Communicate with employees about what challenges they are facing and try to help alleviate any stress as best you can.
The current COVID-19 situation is, in effect, a "pilot test" of the implementation of a WFH model in many organizations. As life returns to normal, or a new normal, it will be important to measure the results of this time to see what worked well and what needs improvement.
I believe that many companies will realize that, in terms of productivity, they are not losing, but winning.