Is your workforce digital ready?

During the Covid 19 Pandemic, the transition to working from home is a crucial step to continue operating and safeguard employee’s wellbeing. Keeping in mind all the necessary factors like work hours, needed tools, and productivity, it is eminent that we move and accept the new normal. Let’s ponder on how to build a digital-ready workforce.

Asynchronous Communication

Asynchronous communication When you send a message without expecting an immediate response. Eg- An email

Synchronous Communication– Communication is when you send a message and the recipient processes the information and responds immediately. In-person communication, like meetings.

As we are transitioning to working remotely during this pandemic, embracing async communication is the best method to adopt to deliver better productivity and give the employees an opportunity to do more meaningful work. Synchronous communication is also needed when you need to get immediate attention from your peers or managers. 

Comprehensive methods to communicate and stay connected with team members while working remote;

a) Instant messaging 

Instant messaging like Skype trounces email by offering immediate and clearer resolution to business concerns that may have lingered unnoticed in inboxes.

b) Updating Statuses

Updating statuses gives clarity on one’s availability which does not affect the productive time with unannounced messages and calls.

c) Open meetings

Regular video and audio calls to discuss dependencies and updates help bridge the gap while working remote.

d) Define core work time

It benefits by increasing the connectivity between teams and standardizing the availability window with the peers and client teams.

e) Casual catch up

Initiating casual calls among team members will help unwind and discuss personal interests and relive the ‘water cooler chats’ through Skype or other chat mediums

Productivity

Statistics have proved that a well managed distributed team is often far more productive than co-located teams, because, indeed, you’re forced to measure productivity by far more objective metrics than things like “time in the building.”

a) Result-oriented approach

Give every team their goals (OKRs) and tasks towards achieving them. Track productivity based on the results and not on how many hours you have been working.

b) Project Management tool

Basecamp is a comprehensive tool to manage daily tasks and long time goals with to-do-lists, calendaring, due dates and file-sharing, Basecamp provides a way for teams to keep track of priorities and actionable items.

c) Analyse and track progress regularly

Productivity can be measured by how much progress we make on the priorities in a given time frame.

d) Regular catch ups and meetings

Giving virtual assistance allows to assess progress and deliveries and keep connected to the team throughout

e) Half yearly/Annual review

Through annual review process, we can identify 

1) What are the key accomplishments?

2) What lessons are learnt?

3) What are the top goals for next year?

4) What skills needs to be improved

5) How can your manager help you

Tools for connect & Brainstorming

Remote brainstorming is an approach beyond simple teleconferencing that enables innovative new ideas to flow freely across a distance. There are many ways to facilitate face-to-face brainstorming which is useful and collaborative during remote sessions.

a) Meeting invite with an agenda

Calendar invites with an agenda will give the participants the opportunity to prepare, and increase the chances to engage with discussion topics better.

b) Digital tools

Tools like Google doc and Mural can be used for whiteboarding and ideating. They open up the ability to collaboratively brainstorm remotely while simultaneously recording the ideas.  Some allow for teams to vote and comment on the collected ideas, making it easier to prioritize next steps.

c) Brainstorm technique

Get the participants’ buy-in prior to the meeting, so everyone comes to the brainstorm prepared to participate. Send an email beforehand describing the technique you plan to use, and invite them to ask clarification questions.

d) Conclude the meeting

Gather as much information as you want during the brainstorming session and sort through and summarize. Based on this plan the next steps and action action.

Hiring Remote employee

Hiring remote employees brings in skills that are scarce in certain locations and offer the options to candidates to pursue the job they really want, without the need to relocate. Also, studies have shown that remote workers are actually more productive than their office-based counterparts. 

a) Wide Talent Pool

Free hand to find talent without any geographical constraints to match the exact requirements. Offering remote working benefits can help employers attract the young, highly skilled employees who might not otherwise be interested in a physical office set up.

b) Flexible hours

Offering flexible work options increases higher employee retention as it is a simple yet effective work model.

c) Boost in productivity

Getting the freedom to work from anywhere and time drastically improves the productivity primarily because of reduced commute hours.

d) Reduces business cost

Remote working reduces and stabilizes expenditure and contains relocation cost. Empowering workers to engage in remote work saves both the company and employees a significant amount of money.

Home Office

When starting to work from home, it might be tempting to work from the couch, easy-chair, or even from the bed, but this could take a huge toll on your productivity. It’s important to work from a consistent room, desk, or chair to give an office like feeling to be more productive.

a) Work space

Convert a comfortable space in the house as an office space and invest in a plushly padded accent chair to spend long hours working. Right kind of lighting can greatly improve the mood and productivity.

b) Maintain a regular schedule

Setting a schedule not only provides structure to the day, it also helps stay motivated. Start the day as if it’s a regular office day by getting dressed and avoiding any online distractions.

c) Take regular breaks

Working remotely tempts to work flat out but regular breaks are needed to give the brain some rest. A walk, a  bit of stretches is required to break the workflow.

d) Stay connected

Prolonged isolation can lead to weakened productivity and motivation. Make a point of scheduling regular coffees and meetings with colleagues and work peers. It’s critically important not just for the career, but for the psychological well-being,

Employee connect

a) Virtual team building

It’s important to maintain the sense of togetherness by recreating fun and enjoyment through virtual mediums. Teams should be brought together through board games, online games and other virtual fun activities.

b) Virtual water coolers chats

Working from home has affected personal interactions and small talks that used to happen at the water coolers. This was a way to engage in casual talks and discuss non work related topics. So recreating a virtual  water cooler space will help employees do away with the monotony.

c) Online recognition

Recognizing employee contribution and efforts is essential to keep up the morale of the employees. This can be done through virtual meetings or dropping a note on casual/official chat windows and spread the word which will motivate employees and increase productivity eventually.

d) Friday close off meetings

To continue the trend of Friday catch up of team members for a lighthearted break before the weekend, a casual Friday close off meeting should be encouraged within the team to discuss the weekend plans and casual conversation to maintain the team bond.

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