Remote working during the lockdown has resulted in a number of challenges and also opportunities.
- Employee well-being;
- Is remote working here to stay?
- Cyber crime on the increase; and
- Needing to find opportunities in the chaos.
- Companies need to take care of their employees, their largest asset.
- The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHASA) places the onus largely on the employer to provide a risk-free environment, and this extends to mental health as well.
- Working remotely is a new concept for many people.
- Keeping track of employee sentiment and well-being is key.
- Stress levels may impact work productivity. Other than working from home, many people also have to contend with kids, schooling, home cleaning, lack of adequate IT equipment/Internet access for remote working, financial constraints, less dedicated time for work and different routines.
- The lack of physical contact may impact extroverts more than introverts.
- Putting people first is vital. Your employees’ well-being and safety is critical. You need to ensure your internal systems support remote working to the fullest, help people be heroes when they may feel financially inadequate, help them feel in control in a world gone awry, and help them find simplicity in the face of hyper-stimulation.
- It’s also important to help people manage scarce time and elevate their quality of life with the family, friends and communities that matter more than money.
- We need to consider and identify support measures, including employee assistance programmes and networks.
- Make time for supportive conversations like you would do in person, for example, a phone call, message and online meeting to discuss any issues and how the employee is coping.
- Informal sessions are key at this time; they can assist teams to stay connected and reduce feelings of isolation.
- Encourage best practice for staff working from home – simple things like properly setting up a workspace that is separate from ‘home’ space, taking regular screen breaks, and clearing away at the end of the day can help people switch off their ‘work mode’ and decompress.
- It is important to make time to exercise, eat well and practice self-care as it can also have a big impact on mental and physical well-being.
Is remote working here to stay?
- The benefits of remote working include smaller offices, less commuting and fewer business trips.
- The challenges include increased cyber crime, the need for employees to commit to securely navigating their work tools, and the blurring of boundaries between work and private life.
- Each company will need to find a balance that works for them and their people.
Cyber crime is on the increase
- As more people are working from home, or elsewhere in isolation, they often have weaker cyber security measures in their home networks than they would in the office.
- It is important to ensure additional security on servers, to continuously remind your staff about cyber hygiene and security awareness, and to ensure all Microsoft and other software patches remain up to date to prevent security vulnerabilities.
- Staff need to remember to create complex passwords, companies need to enforce regular password changes and to have different passwords for different applications.
- Everyone needs to be extra vigilant when it comes to the verification of newly installed software.
- Companies need to ensure ongoing security awareness and training is in place for all employees.
Finding opportunities in the chaos
- The companies that navigate the crisis appropriately will be ready for post-crisis times and will be the winners.
- Companies need to be proactive in their decision-making, act fast and prepare for the new normal by reshaping their businesses as need be.
- Focus on effective cash management with both clients and suppliers.
- Everyone is in the same boat, go the extra mile with both clients and suppliers to strengthen relationships.
- Build new relationships with prospective clients and suppliers to widen our work community.
- Crisis and reputation management are key to strengthening customer relationships.
- Prepare a recovery plan now. Ensure measures are in place to rebuild as need be. These include monitoring and defending core business, nurturing emerging business and genuinely seeking new businesses.
Prepare for the new normal:
- Will your company’s current structure and way of working still apply?
- How are you monitoring changes in customer attitudes and expectations?
Remember, client relationships and the value proposition has always mattered, but it matters so much more now!