COVID-19 has restricted our lives and movement in a big way and the world economy is largely suffering because of the global shutdown. But like they say, the show must go on. For that to happen, it is important that we get our remote work policies in place and follow certain ways and means to be able to make this work in these tough times. Firms have to come up with better facilities for remote working if they need to stay relevant.
Being a cloud-based solution company, at JustLogin we believe in keeping things simple and straight so we can focus more on productivity and people. Even before the global shutdown, we had 30% of our workforce working remotely.
For people who were working from our offices, we made sure to implement work from home at least once in a month, to understand the challenges they face or might face and come up with crafty and standing solutions for the same. This made us fully prepared to make the transition to a 100% workforce working from home and coordinate with our teams scattered all across the continent in places like Malaysia, Hong Kong, Myanmar and Philippines.
What are the challenges one might face while working from home and how, as an organization, we can ensure that our workforce works efficiently during these tough pandemic times?
Let’s move forward and take a look:
1. Distractions at home
At your workplace, you have your personal space to work in peace but at home you are always surrounded by family and if you have kids, then the issue gets two-fold.
To start with, take turns with your spouse to manage kids at home. If you have other family members living with you then that’s a plus. Keep them engaged with something more than just the TV, like books, hobbies and educational video games.
Get up early and segregate your work area to get more work done. It will be great if you can designate one particular room as your home office because that will go a long way to get you into the right work mode.
Another point that we highly underestimate is the power of having the right kind of equipment in place. A bigger or a second monitor can assist you in big ways because it makes you feel like you’re working from the office at the same time helping you multitask in a better way thus improving your overall productivity.
Also, while working remotely we need to be able to pull ourselves away from the constant noise at home which can be disturbing for our clients during conference calls. Therefore, invest in a good pair of noise cancelling headgear and if your organization provides you with one, that’s even better.
2. Lack of face to face communication
For certain people who are not used to working from home, not having face to face conversations can seem very unnatural. According to Dr Albert Mehrabian of UCLA, we lose up to 45% of body language when we don’t have the person right in front of us. For companies who interact with clients and customers on a daily basis, that becomes a big challenge because they have no idea if the person they are interacting with, is understanding the conversation in its intended meaning. This in turn can lead to lost opportunities.
A good telecommunication tool like Microsoft Teams, Skype or Zoom, goes a long way in curbing that 45% gap. A daily 15-minutes scrum call on any one of these tools, asking the employees about what they have done the whole day and about their plan and agenda for the next day are essential to a smooth functioning of the workforce.
Having a pre-planned agenda can help you and your employees keep their heads clean and goals defined. Same is the case with your clients. Giving them a 30 minutes heads up before the meeting can make them more organized thus keeping your meetings short and to the point.
3. Visibility of workforce
One of the biggest drawbacks of working from home is that you have no workforce visibility.
Applications like JustLeave come with a cloud-based user interface with real-time tracking and updates so you can keep a tab of all your employees in terms of their leaves and work from home arrangements. The mobile version gives employees a chance to view their leave summaries through the personal leave calendar, making them more efficient and responsible.
Our in-house application JustClock gives us the opportunity to map records for location overview and have real time visibility of the employee. The mobile variation comes with a face recognition AI which helps the employee clock in their hours, on the go. The geofencing facility on the application helps us create a virtual boundary around the employee so they remain focused on their work and not take the work from home situation for granted.
Hubstaff’s employee monitoring software lets you see the work in progress of your employees by taking random screenshots of their desktop while they are working. Not just that, with their mobile on-the-go check-ins, your team can log in from wherever they are, so you can easily view the time tracked, what each one of them has worked on and much more detailed reports, all in just one click.
Our Chief Operations Officer, Chan Chiou Hao has an experience of working from home for over 30 years and pooling in all that experience, he has come up with a few of his personal suggestions to manage remote working. One of them includes the idea of timeboxing where he schedules his meetings beforehand so that he gets time to cover most of the work in one day. He also adds another interesting point of following the Pomodoro Method wherein you work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. This goes on in a loop. This method is known to enhance productivity and efficiency.
But like they say, every coin has two sides. While work from home can be challenging for a large number of reasons, it also comes with a few benefits of its own. You can get more work done and make the best out of this situation during work from home period.
Managing the workforce in this COVID-19 era can be a challenge but then challenges are what makes us stronger. So stay safe, stay healthy and stay productive.