This pandemic has turned the whole world upside down and we are having to constantly adapt to this new temporary way of living.
Whether it’s social distancing at the supermarket or missing your favorite pub, we can all agree one of the most dramatic changes we are experiencing is how we now work.
A staggering number of us are now working from home due to social distancing laws. You may be a seasoned remote worker or this could be a first, either way, you probably aren’t used to managing a team without actually seeing them for this length of time.
Communication is key when your staff are working from home, not just to maintain workflow and quality but also to preserve relationships and keep a close eye on each other as anyone could be struggling with quarantine.
You and your employees are undoubtedly creatures of habit and much communication within the office would have happened as a passing comment of quick conversation whilst making a cup of tea.
These quick opportunities for catch-ups are now lost and you could be finding it hard to cope without them. After all, you don’t want to appear to be harassing co-workers with hundreds of emails or phone calls each day, do you?
However, over the coming weeks, you are likely to find you can communicate just as effectively without having to be face-to-face, as long as you utilise modern technologies properly. But what exactly is available for managers and what are the advantages?
HR software is an amazing asset to have even without staff working from home, but you can reap the rewards during quarantine.
Your staff may not always be online, other commitments such as children or vulnerable family members may mean they need to complete their working hours periodically throughout the day.
This can be frustrating as things could get held up whilst waiting for replies or information from them, but we must be accommodating at this time.
Using cloud-based HR software means they can keep you updated 24 hours a day in one place. You can see where they are in tasks and if there is a delay and why. Most systems can be personalized to include any information you need.
You can also use this software to clock hours on tasks and projects, this isn’t just so you can see how efficient people in the business are, but you can use this to see where people are struggling.
A task that may have previously taken an hour may now be taking an afternoon. This could be a sign of diminishing mental health and they may need support. Use this as an opportunity to reach out to staff members and offer them the resources available.
You have undoubtedly been using emails for years and there is no reason to stop now. Emails are fast and effective when sending any information to each other.
One element of these is the ability to attach files such as word documents, excel sheets and pictures.
They are an easier way to communicate large amounts of information and by copying in others, you can share this data across your employees.
However, it can be difficult to interpret emotions in an email, what you may write as an instructional piece could be understood as demanding or even patronising. That is why we need to always look into other forms of communication.
Video calling is quickly on the rise across the world due to the lock-down. You can speak face-to-face with employees to get the most true-to-life meeting feel.
This is probably the best method of communication when wanting a ‘general catch-up’ and your video call can be as formal or informal as you make it.
There is also the ability to screen share, meaning presentations can continue. It is a brilliant tool for training. It is estimated that 65% of the population are visual learners, meaning they have to be shown how to do something to understand the process.
Video calling can also increase productivity within your workforce as problems can be resolved quickly instead of waiting for the tedious back-and-forth of emails.
This is something an email, phone call or even text could never portray in the detail we need to complete new tasks.
Travel time is eliminated unless you count traveling from the sofa to your desk.
Like any technology, there can be downsides, weak internet connections and any tech issues such a microphone malfunction can cause problems and waste time trying to rectify.
This could be online services, such as Slack or Instant Messaging, or Whatsapp between staff members.
Instant messaging reduces formalities and staff are more likely to reply with hast. Separate channels can be set-up for certain projects so information can be quickly located instead of having to scroll through hundreds of emails.
It also provides private channels between employees so they can retain that workplace relationship that they had before being quarantined. It is a good way to communicate both work and non-work conversations.
Online calendar tools are something that can be used for more than just your deadlines and meetings.
Using a collaborative calendar means everyone can easily see an overview of when projects are to be delivered. Event reminders can give a gentle nudge to those who may need it, you can easily chase for projects when in the office but constantly doing so via the web can seem bothersome to all parties involved.
Calendars can also be used for personal events, such as birthdays and anniversaries. There is little to celebrate at the moment and as general chit-chat doesn’t happen as often anymore, some may not mention these occasions are coming up.
It’s the small things that keep us happy at the moment, so even if your staff are unable to celebrate a birthday like they wanted to, the acknowledgement of the day from colleagues can go a long way.
Whichever of these you decide to use, take the time to get to know this technology as there are often elements people do not make the most of but can benefit from.
Don’t always assume your staff know how to use these either, a quick training session can benefit these weeks in lock-down, however long they may be.