A Leader’s Dilemma: Managing Performance of Employees WFH
The COVID-19 pandemic has wholly disrupted how organizations work and caused businesses to think differently about their roles and success. They need to adjust to social distancing practices and a new workplace environment that they may never have imagined ever before the surge of the pandemic.
As per the reports by Buffer, 45% of employees reported that they are working from home because of the coronavirus outbreak, while 46% say their organizations plan on making remote work permanent.
Undoubtedly, employee safety is the foremost aspect every organization must focus on considering the sudden surge and environmental changes. But suppose you’re like most industrial leaders. In that case, you might probably see yourself struggling in a deeper dilemma: what’s the ideal way to meet your workplace’s physical and psychological needs while ensuring the organization continues to keep on performing?
Due to the coronavirus outbreak in the past years, leadership styles are changing drastically this year. Business leaders have started supervising their subordinates and employees over online platforms such as audio and video calls over Zoom or Microsoft Teams instead of managing and meeting employees in person.
Working from home is not a leadership style that industrial leaders would have picked if it were not for the covid-19 outbreak; Working from homes and socially-distanced working style has been necessary for businesses rather than a choice. And many leaders are still uncomfortable, both managing at a distance and trusting their staff to get on with their work without direction.
Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports that 40% of managers have low self-confidence in their ability to manage workers remotely. Meanwhile, more than a third (38%) still believe remote workers usually perform worse than those in an office.
In this whole new environment, while working from home has become commonplace, one thing that all industries have found the most challenging is managing and keeping an eye on the employees’ performance, satisfying customers, and providing them enhanced services.
To prevent the spread of the COVID, companies have switched to a remote work model at a rate and scale they’ve never experienced. However, is it really an encouraging and motivating workplace environment or solution for the growth of companies and employees? How does it actually impact an organization’s overall performance and meet customer expectations? The dreaded work from home, however, may not be as easy to execute as it seems.
As face-to-face communication has been replaced with e-mails, online communications, and videoconferencing, it has increased the difficulty of working under challenging circumstances. Businesses have started looking more towards employees’ health and keeping a check on their well-being. HR managers are also under the strain of processing the paperwork and providing solace to the millions of workers laid off furloughed. HR managers continuously put efforts into new strategies to keep employees engaged, productive, motivated, and connected in the new normal.
Everyone approaches their work differently. Consequently, It’s always important and has become a necessity for HR managers to be across different teams and understand how people are motivated in their roles. So, with this in mind, we have curated a few tips for our HR guide on managing employees’ performance while working from home to stay high performers.
The Scale of the Problem
There is a huge difference between working from home once in a while, to making the home a new workplace station as a long-term plan. For starters, while the IT sector is possibly used to working from home once in a while, it is more of a fresh and unfamiliar experience for many individuals in various sectors like health, education, finance, and human resources.
The concept of work from home has its own set of downfalls. Believe it or not, there are numerous advantages to working from workplaces, insisting on being physically present at work.
The most widely known and recognized ones that come to mind include the benefits of in-person interactions and meetings, the possibility of clear communication, faster resolution of conflicts, ease in working with the team members, building and keeping up the team morale. Most importantly, a clear division between work and home, making it much easier to keep your work and home life separate. Work can stay at workplaces and home at home.
Working from home shows a real challenge for some employers, especially when getting the best performance from their team. One major disadvantage of working from home is that the workday never ends and becomes extremely exhausting both physically and mentally, as expectations may be that the employees are ‘always available. Such circumstances make it worse for employees to work sanely.
One may experience a great deal of frustration at being unable to work as effectively as possible when physically in the workplace. Working from home has also potentially raised departmental issues and complaints regarding lack of employee engagement. Who knows how dedicatedly the employees are working, when there’s no one watching over them? What’s to stop them from going off-task or just completing the bare minimum?
Another obvious and the most common hesitation all employers face is whether employees can perform their roles according to HR policies and procedures, especially when not in the workplace.
Now, that situation is not as simple as it seems; many companies are still concerned about letting employees work from their homes – much of this concern centers on the loss of control.
It’s time to come up with a better solution.
As the WFH concept still extends into 2021, business leaders will now have a more significant duty to ensure that remote working succeeds with the business operations goals and customer satisfaction. The future of work post-COVID will involve a blend of home and face-to-face work, which means that the shift from direct interaction to management at a distance will become more entrenched.
Tip 1: Create a central and precise list of priorities
Centrally deciding a clear set of priorities for people working in an organization and locally implementing them with a high degree of autonomy is essential for business leaders in the WFH environment. In a dynamic situation, effective business leaders empower their subordinates and managers to make the best decisions they can, by keeping in mind a clear set of business priorities, such as keeping employees safe and behaving ethically toward customers.
Tip 2: Encourage breaks
One of the main issues associated with working from home for most of the employees is not getting enough breaks. Employees are dealing with the difficulty of pulling themselves away from the screens and taking some time away from themselves. Employees find themselves sitting in front of their computer screens, trying to compensate for not being in front of their managers. It leads them to become counterproductive and increases the lack of motivation and burnout. Encourage your staff to take regular breaks and enjoy the better parts of working from home.
Tip 3: Socialise with your employees and be empathetic
The extrovert employees of your workplace thrive on social occasions, such as office birthdays, Friday night meetups, and casual office parties. It is advisable to try and recreate those scenarios whenever possible and have a good time with the teammates. It helps to boost employees’ productivity and mental happiness. Teammates can plan and enjoy their afternoons together, share a virtual meal at brunch, or meet whenever it is feasible for everyone. Keeping the social butterflies in your office happy helps boost their performance and keep your workplace culture strong.
It is a denying fact, scared and stressed workers are rarely productive workers. Work from home has suddenly been forced upon employees; some employees are likely to feel anxious and concerned about how they will survive in the suddenly changed environment. To deal with this concern of the employees, managers need to keep empathetic behavior towards the employees and keep up communication in the workplace. Simply asking employees how they’re going and what they’re finding challenging can go a long way in helping them to overcome their fears.
Tip 4: Reach out to your customers
Across all industries, Covid-19 has become an uncontrollable force, and it has become essential to reach out to the customers and find out what they are struggling with, what they are worried about, and if they need any sort of help. If we believe the industry leaders, talking with the customers, either one-on-one or via online platforms, is the only way to deal with the COVID effects on businesses.
Tip 5: Ensure your remote employees have the required tools, technology, and training
Most organizations are still working remotely and planning to continue in the coming months. WFH acts as both a boon and a burden for the employees. To ensure the utmost productivity, it is essential to incorporate the required tools and deliver seamless and enhanced customer service. This is where contact center solutions come into the picture. Contact center leaders now have access to many digital workforce optimization capabilities that better suit the realities of working from home and do not rely on outdated manual processes.
Moreover, organizations should be empowering agents to succeed outside of the office through digital training options, including self-paced e-learning modules that help agents improve their skills and help managers ensure quality. Finally, encourage agent-to-agent chat for team collaboration and knowledge sharing. This also serves to build team camaraderie and agent morale.
Digital Customer Engagement Channels Shine
One of the biggest winners and saviors of the COVID-19 was digital customer engagement. In the contact center world, digital channels such as email, SMS, and web chat truly excelled as a means of communication with consumers and were a hit with agents. Digital channels help customers engage on their preferred communication channels, multitask, deal with potentially noisy home situations, and offer the same benefits to agents without reductions in customer satisfaction. In fact, by strategically using digital capabilities, agents can also deflect call volume.
Additionally, bots and other automation can provide service when live agents cannot, including outside of standard working hours, in the face of potential staffing shortages. Momentum toward bots and virtual agents has only accelerated since the start of the pandemic.
Want More Expert Business Leader Advice?
Open and compatible communication is a key to keeping employees motivated and engaged when working from home. If one believes the recent buzz, even after the Covid-19 pandemic, working remotely is a long-forgotten nightmare and might become the new normal for most corporations.
It seems that during the Coronavirus pandemic, some managers are having a hard time adjusting to the new normal, managing employees without a “line of sight.” Wherein employees are also feeling the adverse effects of close monitoring and distrust from their managers. However, Managers can be supported and trained to manage their employees more effectively and enhance their productivity while working from their homes.