Like many of you, the good fortune of being able to work from home provides a flexible work approach to getting things done. I now more than ever see that it is nothing to complain about especially during this time in our nation. I am often asked, with an extroverted personality, how can one work at home by themselves. But it’s not the loneliness that gets the best of me at times, it’s the adjustment to a more introverted personality, that I believe comes with age. Those of you that recognize these personality types understand that introverts focus inward, into their own thoughts, and extroverts focus outward, into the world. But science and research has shown that; most people are a little bit of both. So, in a time when our personalities drive how adaptable we can be during a crisis, how are managers dealing with the influx of remote employees who have historically been more successful in the office environment?
A request to a mandate?
Arguably, the most practical way to communicate to employees is when they are right in front of you. However, today’s technological advancements have allowed employees to implement more flexible work practices with the use of remote work. These adjustments in a time of crisis provide options for companies to create and utilize more innovative mechanisms to keep our workforce productive. In a time of crisis, the working remote option, has become a mandate for many, which after careful thought can come with its own set of challenges. A short list of those challenges can include:
- Finding the right space at home to limit distractions from family, pets, construction noise etc.
- Finding the right software to stay in touch quickly e.g. Teams or Slack or Zoom
- If a company needs help on getting setup remotely, the current wait times are extremely long to get assistance since most companies have employees working from home
- Moving existing company files online or telephone systems offsite quickly; and addressing connectivity issues (network speed, bandwidth, other members of household using network), equipment issues (no camera, no mic, wi-fi range)
- Having employees feel like they are still part of a team when everyone is working mostly independently
- And finally, that all-encompassing comfortable chair to sit in for hours at a time
While this list may not be all-inclusive, it does seem that managers and their employees have a lot to consider as we move to flexible options to ensure uninterrupted compensations, along with the need to keep us out of harm’s way. So, let’s pause a little and consider, what are we really complaining about. That silence may last a long time, especially when the list above could not be compared to the number of casualties and challenges the nation is facing now with the uncharted territory of this pandemic.
Clearly this is new for a lot of folk
I spoke about personalities earlier with the clear intent of sharing something extraordinary about my current employer, and particularly my boss. So, we will just call him Mark, to protect the innocent, whose nature on a given day, can clearly be described as even keel, with no hints of passive aggression. Why is that important you ask? Well, while working remotely, one needs their leadership to say what they mean and mean what they say without the need to have to interpret emotions, behaviors, and feelings (good, bad or indifferent). This is just one perspective I share that can help the managers working with remote employee stay organized, and calm, in a stressful time at work, others are as follows:
- Know your personality type, this is a powerful tool to have you work effectively with people, not just during a crisis, but all day everyday- A great personality assessment for this task would be the use of the DiSC assessment, which could be a great way to review the results as a team building activity as well.
- Understand how to get the best out of people—what motivates, inspires them, and makes them want to get up at 7 am and stop working at 11pm—the individuals not motivated by the clock, but by the passion in the work
- Provide clear value statements about accountability, trust and transparency—It is great to work for a company that doesn’t’ question what you are doing, or when you do it because those statements and guidance about accountability, trust, and transparency are readily available.
- Support the ideas of efficiency and effectiveness– This helps employees know that they will be celebrated for innovative steps taken to move the company forward
- Do not try to control things out of the span of your control—a better use of your time will be to prepare people in advance, have clear and specific goals, and provide reasonable expectations in which you would like to get things accomplished.
Management is not a science it is an art, and those of you that work for companies that allow employees to freely communicate, and foster a real sense of team spirit, are in for a real treat during this difficult time. Your employees will thrive, be excited about deliverables, and look for you to offer this option on a permanent basis.
A Final Thought
A defining moment is a term we use when we want to describe how things are now, and perhaps how different things will be when we look back a year from now. Remote working is not just a fad, it is here to stay. One of the best, benefits that can be derived from remote work, I would say is the flexible schedule to work smarter not harder. With an unpredictable life comes unpredictable challenges. I believe the smarter I work for my company, in a remote fashion, paves the way for others who would like this flexibility one day. Sometimes it’s not what you plan to do in the future that makes a difference, it is how you are rising to the occasion in difficult times. So, take a moment and thank your managers, for trusting you to do what is right today and possibly your future path is already paved. Stay positive, this too shall pass.
If you or your organization would like to find out more about executive leadership coaching, behavioral personality assessments, and mentoring, and how a mentoring program can help bridge the gaps experienced from missing employee engagement please reach out and connect with us at Coley & Associates. We are here to help move your organization forward, and we are passionate about what we do and committed to making a positive difference in our customers’ businesses and the world around us.