Over the past couple of months Lotus People has been focused on providing our community with practical advice and information on how to navigate our new reality, an ever-changing workplace environment. Within a blink of an eye, many of us were testing our IT skills, setting up our computer monitors on the dining room table ready to settle into uncharted territory, working from home.
A concept that for many businesses has historically been a taboo, this modern approach to working was thrust upon us before many organisations could implement strategic policies and action plans. In Lotus’ second COVID-19 Work webinar; ‘Unseen Challenges of Remote Working’, Lotus People Director, Sinead joined Alex Hattingh, CPO at Employment Hero, Olivia Ruello, CEO at Business Chicks and Chris Low, Head of Vibe at Canva to discuss their greatest learnings on tracking productivity and monitoring the well-being of a home-based workforce.
“What do we want to be known for during this time?” Business Chicks CEO Olivia shared that by asking this question, they were able to shift their goals and create a new energy and passion within the team. The global workforce has never dealt with a situation like this before so a reassessment of what the business stands for can really reaffirm buy-in from employees.
Alex and Chris both agreed two-way communication is key for tracking and maintaining productivity. Chris shared that finding the right balance between overcommunication and under communication has been a challenge and that constant reviewing of processes is integral to pinpoint what approach works best when motivating employees from a distance.
Concerned that employees might start wearing themselves out or working overtime to prove their worth, Alex believes organisations need to be transparent with their employees on all fronts including financials. As a leader, it is so important to stay close and connected to your team, “by being involved in Slack chats, virtual clubs and meetups, it shows your team that they have your permission to take that time out to connect with each other”.
Alex emphasized the importance of encouraging employees to keep a morning routine which can be as simple as getting dressed for the day and moving your body. Replace your commute time with a yoga session or a walk and set clear boundaries around work time and home time.
After the first two weeks of working from home Olivia noticed that her team were burning out and wellbeing had to become the main priority. How could they care for the 100,000 women Business Chicks work with if they weren’t taking care of themselves? Olivia implemented daily Zoom check-ins, a weekly Barre class and wine Fridays to ensure the team were still connecting with each other in a social setting. Olivia admitted that sometimes the check-ins were a little awkward and flat but as a leader it is your responsibility to pick up on that energy and set aside time to speak to team members in a one-on-one setting. Since implementing these strategies Olivia says the team is becoming closer, sharing more and learning more about each other than ever before.
Alex and Chris have been encouraging their staff to utilize Slack channels to emulate that ‘bumping into someone in the kitchen’ chit chat that we often take for granted when working in an office. As Head of Vibe, Chris has come up with some innovative activities for his staff including a wine club and coffee roulette which allows employees that wouldn’t usually chat outside of work hours to catch up as if they were in the office.
All panellists believe as leaders during these times, you can’t be too hard on yourself. Chris and Olivia agreed that decisions need to be made quickly but held lightly and if a wrong decision is made to have the humility to own that mistake, learn from it and pivot your approach. Chris believes that if you are transparent with your employees, mistakes and all, they are more likely to come along on the journey of making decisions, refining processes and moving forward.
Despite physical distance, all panellists have noticed a deeper sense of connection between their employees. Working from home has forced companies to get back to the essence of what their business is all about. By stripping away the noise of the day-to-day and reconnecting with the company’s true mission, employees are able to see the value they are adding to their community, and, during a time of global crisis, embracing this human connection through a sense of community is what truly matters most.