Work from home team management – In view of the extraordinary circumstances making commute, assembly and in-person contact with the workforce literally impossible, work from home comes out as the natural choice. However, in the absence of any proper training or a remote semblance to anyone having complete organizations working from home, managers are bound to feel overwhelmed.
The 1st part of this article has already dealt with the workforce issues by offering tips for working from home for optimal productivity. The 2nd part here is directly addressed to the leadership team who, like everybody else, are scared by the threat to their own and their family’s well-being as also are unsettled by the definite prospect of failed/unachievable business goals. We need to be able to look at the possible resetting of business goals and making the most of the current situation with the following approach:
1- Stay in touch
Spread hope and positively by being in touch with direct and extended team members. Do remember that it is an unprecedented change of work-environment and method for most of the team members. Everyone is scared on a personal level and many are possibly looking at a challenging future career-wise and some at the loss of jobs. In these troubled times, Managers need to continuously keep in touch, preferably in video-mode, with their immediate team members and share any bits of information that makes them feel that the situation is being handled and the company/business will surmount the challenges of time. It would help if specific tasks can be given for a shorter period of time and as much as possible on a daily basis so that no one is overwhelmed.
work from home team management – #workfromhometips
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Forming special teams for extending support to people working from home. This team essentially has to be a mix of mature senior management as well as domain experts. People may need discussions just to keep them calm at a personal and professional level. While some of the challenges can be handled by the HR team, more often than not a video-call from a senior team member will have a better impact in most cases. The tech expert can help them set up tools/ apps for better productivity, the sales and marketing expert can help share a better understanding of the market scenario and so on and so forth.
3- Revisit business-plan and market
Forming an empowered team to relook at the business plan, strategy and risk-assessment in face of the ground reality is of utmost importance. Many of the client organizations are getting impacted and would further get impacted by an escalating pandemic of which no immediate end is in sight. The health of client companies as well as your own will define how you are going to address the next few weeks and months. This empowered team should interact with the leadership in customer organizations and try to understand the change and business requirements at that end. Some new clients may emerge in face of the new market conditions. From all the learning compiled by this team, adjustments need to be made to the business plan and any changes to the strategy and go-to-market cycle need to be conveyed to the relevant teams. This will take varying time for each business / specific industry.
work from home team management
4- Make a taskforce
Creating new processes through intervention teams for each major department will help. Once all the steps mentioned above are taken care of, the task force will need to interpret the directive by the leadership team in process-changes to align with the customer-success journey. It will also include mapping targets and departmental forecasts in view of the changes advised by the leadership team.
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5- New investments in technology
Re-allocate budgets from travel, boarding-lodging, conferences to acquire the best technology for teams working from home as well as to manage those. At the cost of being repetitive, the changes required at the organizational level and at the pace required are unprecedented. Only the best planners, strategists, and executors will be able to steer their companies out of trouble. Given the fact that very little time or none was actually put into preparing the work from home teams for the present challenges, a lot of hand-holding and supervision is required. For team leaders, remote ‘call and screen monitoring’ can be a good first step. All the issues related to all-time connectivity, reporting, security issues, etc. will need to be addressed. Re-allocating budgets on this head will help.
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6- Daily/periodic huddles
Find and deploy the right technology for interacting with a large number of team members while everyone is working from home. If carried out rightly, the above steps will already start bringing some comfort to your teams within two weeks of working from home. What will definitely help is daily or periodic huddles as defined by the dynamics of your business. These face-time huddles convey the confidence of having a plan in your team. With every small positive step towards a defined success indicator, the productivity of the teams will improve.
The article has been contributed by Achal Kaushal, a management professional with decades of domestic and international experience.
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