Co-authored by: Rachel Rainey
In the beginning of March, companies and employees began to realize we were on the path to a new way of working. By the end of April that path led to temporary working from home setups, understanding new virtual collaboration tools, and setting up classrooms for our children while they worked alongside us. Collectively we came to the realization that this may become a new way of working.
Fast forward to the end of May where we don’t have all the answers and solutions figured out, one thing we can all agree on is that things are definitely not the same anymore. Its time we start looking at how we plan to continue working once we go back to a "new normal"?
On Tuesday May 19th, HCL Technologies facilitated a virtual roundtable with stakeholders from multiple industries across the country, ranging from hospitality, utilities, manufacturing, etc. to hold conversations with peers around "3 questions they should be ready to answer post COVID-19."
The questions discussed during the 45 min call were:
- What do you need in order to track performance in a virtual work setting?
- How do you plan to re-engage employees who have experienced hardship?
- What new competencies are needed for your people managers to succeed?
Here are a few key messages originating out of this energetic discussion with our peers, as they continued their journey to figure out what is the next new normal for each other and their companies:
What do you need in order to track performance in a virtual work setting?
People have mostly been impacted on an individual level. We need to think of customized ways to reengage the workforce as they carry on the work from home method. Some of these ways can include:
- Use data metrics that showcases tangible performance results for EE’s being assigned in work from home set ups.
- Enlist a COVID SWAT team to roll out post COVID initiatives, such as training courses on how to be a manager in a virtual setting.
- Coming back to work will feel different for everyone, and we need to be empathetic to everyone’s needs. Just because a lot of people work from home does not mean their work from home experience is the same.
- Acknowledge that there is now a completely new way of working, many employees have already proven that they can work virtually and be successful using this medium.
How do you plan to re-engage employees who have experience hardship?
- The way we look at performance is changing. Some companies will be able to continue leveraging data driven metrics for certain roles, but other companies will be forced to shift to a more result/outcome-based measurement of performance.
- The shift in the performance requires setting the right targets and goals, more frequent communications, and creating a shift to a more agile environment.
- Trust is the key to continued success in these new times, continuous efforts invested into creatin and sustaining a trust-based culture is of paramount importance.
What new competencies are needed for your people managers to succeed?
- From a people manager perspective, upskilling is needed in these three areas:
- Coaching managers on how to interact virtually with employees as they work from home.
- Practicing empathy for employees and their individual work-from-home environments.
- Training and awareness around the different virtual collaboration tools available.
- From an employee perspective upskilling is needed in these three areas:
- Employees like people managers are looking for ways to upskill with different virtual collaboration tools.
- Coaching employees to feel comfortable with on-camera etiquette required when operating in a virtual setting.
- Create a comfortable remote workspace environment that encourages productivity.
- We asked the group questions around tools and techniques that they may have used or plan to use, as their new virtual working environment continues - here are a few suggestions:
- Create a manager’s guide on managing people as they take on virtual work.
- Create an employee guide on what to expect while working remotely.
- Continue to poll employees on where they are in the journey.
- Morning Coffee Connect (no work talk, just a great way for employees to check in).
- Incorporate Daily Virtual Standups (think Scrum style).
The overarching theme of the discussion revolved around encouraging flexibility, empathy for managers and employees. The current virtual work situation is a change for everyone, but not everyone will experience the change in the same way. Not everything you try the first time building an agile environment will work, so do not give up, continue to reach out and create opportunities for networking with peers to find creative solutions. Remain focused on keeping employees safe, informed and the rest will fall into place.