Considerations for Managers in a Post COVID-19 World
Written by: Dawn Lee
With the strict measures implemented by the Singapore Government, our lives have changed especially in the workplace. Since the introduction of the circuit breaker in April 2020, work-from-home has remained as default mostly. Business continuity has been observed and this shows that majority of the workforce is able to work productively and efficiently even while they are at home.
The old norm requiring people to be physically present at the workplace is long gone, with a survey showing that productivity has increased by 47% despite the lockdown measures and requirements to work from home. With more the shift in trends, more employers in Singapore are implementing flexible work arrangements and remote work, however, there are bound to be challenges.
Here are some things to consider if you are planning to provide more remote working options:
1. Having a realistic scale of employees on remote work
While work from home remains as default in Singapore at the moment, it is not practical for most companies at this point to expect their entire workforce to work from home all the time.
Companies will need to re-think if certain job functions that require physical presence are still necessary for the long run, in the event that the current crisis turns into an endemic. For instance, can a Supplier Quality Engineer, who might be required to be present to inspect materials from time to time, be allowed to work on a hybrid working arrangement?
Thus, it is important to identify the ideal percentage of the workforce that you can support working remotely while ensuring that mental health, client engagement, performance, teamwork and culture are not negatively impacted.
2. Having proper policies in place
Working remotely will become the new norm, hence, managers will need to come up with company policies that will aid in having such arrangements.
While different companies have different needs, it is best to communicate with your employees 1-to-1 about their experience working from home and try to understand what their preferences are. For employees who would like to continue working remotely, you will have to identify what went well and what are some of the issues or challenges that need to be addressed. For example, some employees may need to take care of young children while working from home and managers can help by understanding that there will be some unexpected disruptions from time to time.
Another common issue is the blurring of work-life boundaries. Employees working from home may find it difficult to stop working for the day, thus it is important to make it clear that your employees are expected to go offline once their working day has ended. This is so that employees can unwind and get enough rest while ensuring that other employees who have already finished for the day are not disturbed.
It is also good to implement regular check-ins with your employees to find out more about what they have done for work and if there are any challenges or issues that they are facing. This will keep your workforce motivated and efficient as it will allow them to feel that they are not neglected and that the company is concerned for their well-being.
3. Opportunities for socialising and networking
With remote working, communication, socialising and networking may be limited. Therefore, it is necessary to create opportunities for the different departments or teams to come together socially. Regular video calls allow for face-to-face interactions, but once the restrictions ease, it will be good to encourage employees to go back to the office once in a while so that they can interact with others in person.
However, at this point in time, managers can consider scheduling monthly or quarterly virtual team lunches or perhaps set aside an hour every month to come together for workshops or training programmes. If you need some ideas, ask your employees or your team; there will definitely be things that people would like to do and together you can brainstorm and collate some ideas to see what is the most feasible and works the best.
By going through these considerations, you will be able to determine what is required to make remote working viable while ensuring the productivity of your hybrid team and work together to achieve success. Remember to strike a balance between worker’s preferences, and the business needs to create a win-win outcome for your organisations.