Don't leave your staff languishing out on a limb when working remotely
Working from home is becoming the new norm for many businesses big and small. However, without the backup and support of managers and colleagues it can leave staff struggling to stay motivated and productive.
Smaller firms who have been thrown into this due to Covid-19, without any time to prepare and without the backup of an HR department, need to ensure they are getting this right.
David Barnard, Senior Compliance Manager at Jarrovian Wealth, comments: The lockdown has hit everyone hard, but particularly smaller businesses without teams and experts to give them guidance. Now we have had a few weeks to get used to the shock change to our working pattern, it's time to take stock and see where we can make improvements to help things run as smoothly and successfully as possible. Home workers need good direction, good feedback, good communication and good boundaries so they can do the best job possible.
David shares his top tips for getting home working right:
Set some boundaries
Give staff guidance on what you expect from them while they are working from home. Do you want everyone following their usual 9 to 5 hours? Can staff work hours to suit themselves? Is there a critical time slot each day that is key for your business operation when you need everyone to be logged on and working?
Set the ground rules for separating work and home life, by reassuring everyone it's okay to switch off and walk away. Think about bringing in company rules around reading and answering emails — a cut-off time may work. You should consider a rota for key workers to take turns monitoring emails for slightly longer hours, if your business needs more constant monitoring.
Encourage regular breaks
Remember your staff are used to coming into work, taking breaks to do the tea round and have a catch up with colleagues and switching off during their lunch break. They need to find a similar routine while being based at home. People will be feeling more anxious when isolated at home, worried they need to be online and available constantly. So, let them know you want them to take proper breaks.
Good mental health is even more vital during the current climate, with the extra pressure and worry the crisis is creating for everyone. Staff will end up burned out and unable to do their job well if they feel overwhelmed and not confident, they need to switch off and enjoy home life without the constant worry.
Start each day with a conference/video call to help motivate everyone and ensure they are properly set up for the day ahead. Go through what needs to be achieved and ensure everyone knows their targets for the day. Encourage feedback if people hit any snags or are unable to complete their tasks.
Make sure everyone knows you have an open-door policy and you or their immediate boss can be contacted with any issues — good or bad. Let everyone know how best to communicate. Ask staff if they feel a later day catch up would work for them too — to ensure everyone feels included and kept up to date. These don't need to be long drawn out affairs, just short and sweet, and kept on point. Keep staff up to date on how the company is performing, with some reassurances and honesty vital here. Don't leave them to find out about issues via their newspaper or on social media.
Teamwork is key
Don't underestimate how much people will be missing the office banter and the support of their colleagues. Think of ways to get staff to work together and continue to brainstorm on new ideas to stop the feelings of remoteness and of being left out of the loop.
Give good feedback
Don't forget to praise and thank staff for their continued effort and hard work during these difficult times. A thank you will go a long way to helping to keep everyone motivated, and to inspire people to continue to do their job well. The odd reward or treat may be a nice touch to show your appreciation during the current climate. A little gesture could gain a lot of loyalty.
Parents with children need particularly require an extra helping hand to juggle home schooling and work. Remember they are trying to do something completely out of their comfort zone. Find out what would help them to manage everything better. The less stressed they are the better their work will be.
Training is still vital
It can be difficult just keeping on top of the day-to-day remotely but don't take your eye off vital training and ensure everyone's skills are kept up to date. If you have younger or newer, members of staff, create mentors from your more experienced team to help keep them on track. Online training and bite size virtual sessions are available in all sorts of areas of expertise.
Add some fun
Keeping your company afloat is the key thing but it's also important to look after the welfare of your staff. Organise some work socials — zoom quizzes, get togethers, bake-offs. Find out what everyone would enjoy. But do them in work time, rather than taking up family time. Finishing an hour early on a Thursday or Friday is the perfect way to celebrate getting through another week and kick start the weekend.
About Jarrovian Wealth
JW was established in 2017. Our team of skilled and experienced financial planners does more than just look after the numbers for clients around pensions, investments and protection – both personal and business. We get to know and understand the deeper motivations and aspirations, so we can challenge people to think bigger. While knowing they are in a safe pair of hands building up a secure financial future. We may be one of the newer players, but we are packed with experience as our clients have been trusting our experts with their financial lives for over 30 years. We don't just focus on individuals we incubate businesses too helping entrepreneurs and those up and running to get ventures off the ground, stay on track and plan the perfect exit strategy, so owners can focus on the day job of running the show. JW's headquarters are in London.
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PAUL SMITH ASSOCIATES
12th May 2020