The New Normal- Working From Home
21 May 2020
Our intrepid business manager Leanne Kozak has overseen the seamless move to remote teamwork within the Nimbler group of companies recently. While not easy at the time due to the speed of change, she reflects on the clear and present benefits we and our clients, are experiencing.
Covid-19 has started a working from home (WFH) revolution for those not on the essential services ‘frontline’.
While for some this might seem like a working holiday with no commuting, enhanced productivity, regular pet pats or never having to get out of your pyjamas, for others the idea and reality of WFH generates a range of anxieties, practical difficulties and other downsides.
Businesses should now be considering what would be the right fit for them.
Implementing WFH in a structural way.
Businesses that see salvation in a fast adoption of tools without structural adjustments, risk a loss of efficiency and frustration among employees and stakeholders. It is not enough to simply provide the necessary infrastructure and tools, but a successful migration also requires leadership, clear guidelines, and real commitment.
Balancing the work and private lives of employees.
Through the immediate introduction of WFH, employees experience a blurring of the boundary between work and private life. Working hours increased, overheads came down, however productivity long term may suffer if clear limitations are not defined. Actively investing in your employees’ well-being therefore is of paramount importance.
Management needs to define a goal.
When implementing WFH, business leaders must first define a goal. COVID-19 is not a goal in itself. Business leaders need to ask why they want to implement WFH beyond the demands of the current crisis. Is the aim to reduce overheads, to optimise commuting, or introduce more flexibility into the corporate culture? Once the goal is defined, the first step starts with adapting leadership to the new way of working.
A set of clear guidelines are needed to help employees deal with this new way of working: not only why, but also what and how. Management needs to spend the time to get this right and review it regularly to ensure it is meeting changing situations.
Maintain good employee relations for good collaboration.
It is important for businesses to keep track of employee sentiment during the rollout of structural WFH. Business leaders should pay attention to the impact a lack of physical contact has on people. Only when employees WFH do they fully realise the added value of physical contact.
Virtual communication should be quicker and much more frequent. This improves collaboration and builds the necessary trust to successfully roll out new ways of working. Daily video team meetings, weekly catch ups and the ability to physically come to collaborate occasionally can contribute to a successful environment.
Consciously planned off-time moments such as virtual coffees or 'bring your pets to work' sessions give teams the opportunity to connect with each other. It is no coincidence that silly games, video sharing and virtual after-work drinks are doing so well these days: they are a way to ventilate emotions and share them with colleagues.
WFH is an opportunity for businesses to change their way of working sustainably and reap the benefits. Think of less office space, less commuting, fewer business trips, shorter breaks and greater focus for employees. Feedback from the market seems to indicate that remote workers are also less likely to take short absences due to illness. It can also have a positive impact on the remuneration system of companies and provide stimulating working environments for staff. WFH on a larger scale also offers businesses the flexibility to deal with unexpected events in the future, such as the COVID-19 crisis. Finally, WFH can give a renewed boost to cooperation and cohesion.
Digital Agencies like Nimbler, have been moving to a WFH model for some time and while Covid-19 has sped this process up, these agencies are currently enjoying and benefiting from the increased productivity, team morale and responsibility, and reduced overheads, making the transition a worthwhile and exciting progression for the future.
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By Leanne Kozak
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