The evolution of work with Covid-19: words from our CEO
“When the pandemic and lockdown happened back in the spring, the way we worked changed in different ways”.
For those who were able to retain work and do their jobs from home, they did. For some, there were little differences and for others, it was a completely different way of working.
The cynics who in the past had refused to let their people work from home – as we all know, it was really shirking from home in their eyes – woke up to the fact that actually most businesses could operate this way, and my staff were pretty good and reliable in the work they were doing.
In my opinion, there have been three, possibly four, phases of working through the pandemic months thus far.
It is almost like the classic team building concept of norming, forming, storming and performing.
The new phases being novel, familiar, relax and let’s go!
The first phase, the novelty phase.
This may also be known as the ‘getting used to this’ phase. Strange is the word many would use – not having that arduous commute, chatting with colleagues in the kitchen, grabbing breakfast from Pret around the corner. Just get up and get working. Setting up the environment that enabled people to work and be productive was a novelty.
It must also be recognised that for some this also created anxiety; the potential guilty feeling of sitting in your garden having a cup of tea when you think you should be at your computer working.
There was no demarcation from “I am at work, I am now at home”, again this was difficult for many to adjust to.
Management is supportive but fairly hands off in trying to ensure that the business can continue and staff morale is sustained.
The second phase.
“This is more difficult than I thought.” Two extremes that are dependent upon role – either really busy or not a lot to do. Getting used to this and forming some type of routine; still figuring out and learning the best way to manage time – that was a common feeling.
This state was a challenging time for management and leadership as many tried to manage with existing metrics and KPIs that were clearly affected by the new approach to work.
Do we need different or new metrics?
The chill or relaxed phase. “Now I know I can make out I am really busy while still fitting in walking the dog, doing the shopping and even a round of golf. As long as I log in every now and then I will be OK.”
Productivity is clearly down, so management instils a micro-management approach and starts to have daily calls to check in and validate the work is being done.
This is very difficult, and if you micro manage on activity, the activity ends up being created, thus taking up even more management time in validation.
Worse still, are some people moonlighting with a second job?
I do not like the phrase new normal, it’s just normal. It is the way we operate today. It is not working from home, but simply working. The location is significantly less relevant today.
This is where we are today – this may well not be the final phase, but it is certainly a much better place than we have been.
In this phase we have the business in a much more settled state, employees understand what is expected, they are managing their time and more importantly, the outputs and productivity are much higher.
I would define this as the let’s go phase.
Throughout all of these phases, the overriding imperatives are communication and collaboration.
This has been a learning curve for all of us and there will be many twists and turns in the road ahead, and agility within the organisation to adjust and leverage the opportunities that will arise, is a must.”
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