The COVID pandemic has been an extremely challenging time for everyone. At best, people’s day-to-day routines have been drastically changed. At worst, people have lost friends and loved ones. During these difficult times, businesses have had to alter the ways in which they operate. Many have looked to remote work as a solution to some of the barriers presented by the pandemic.
Some organizations have managed this change more successfully than others. Both Apple and Google have recently featured in less than complimentary headlines as employees criticize their remote work policies. But how can you avoid falling into similar pitfalls?
Here are some options that can help keep employees happy whilst they are working from home?
Why are remote-work policies important?
Whether you’re running a large organization with thousands of staff, or a small business employing three people, the happiness of your employees matters. Firstly, because as an employer the wellbeing of your staff should be a priority. Secondly, because low morale means lower productivity.
Give employees the flexibility to work from home
Both Google and Apple have come under criticism for attempting a move away from home working.
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple recently informed employees that they would have to work part-time at the office. Staff members responded with a strongly worded letter that claimed ‘many of us feel we have to choose between either a combination of our families, our well-being, and being empowered to do our best work, or being a part of Apple.’
Obviously, this is not the kind of thing you want to hear from your employees. To avoid this situation, it’s important to promote flexible working during the pandemic. When viable, give people the option of working from home. Whilst this might sound counterproductive, there are numerous studies that actually show productivity-improving as a result of remote work. One study showed a 13% increase in inefficiency.
When this isn’t possible and employees need to work in-office, you should make sure you have procedures in place to make them feel as COVID safe as possible.
Practice what you preach
When remote working isn’t possible, set the right example by ensuring your presence within the office. This is one example that Google failed to put into practice when Senior Vice president Urs Hölzle announced that he would relocate to New Zealand as an ‘experiment’. Understandably many of Google’s employees, who had just been told they had to return to the office, were less than impressed.
A big part of leadership is acting as a role model to your team. If you aren’t present in the workplace when asking others to return, it’s likely to cause a fair amount of bad blood.
The new ‘normal’
Many organizations adopted home working during the pandemic. As we have seen, there have been real advantages to this. Now, we hope that the pandemic is receding. Companies are seeking a return to normality. The experience of Apple and Google tells us to tread carefully.
Consider the transitional steps and safeguards, build in flexibility where you can, and perhaps above all, consult your workers. You might just end up with a stronger operational model than ever!