“Never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis” Niccolo Machiavelli, Italian diplomat, writer and philosopher, 1469 – 1527
Perhaps the greatest upheaval for many businesses today (especially the small to medium sized) is the need for their staff to work from home – either full time or on a rotational basis. Outside of an international health crisis situation, working from home is a much more common occurrence with our North American clients who have been successfully managing remote staff for years – so we know it can work!
Research confirms that pre-Coronavirus, there were already many staff who would prefer to work in this way, as it offers them the opportunity for greater flexibility and autonomy. Taking a positive approach, what you learn from your current WFH initiative can be applied to your business post-Coronavirus. If you are looking to attract and retain staff in the long-term, maintaining a ‘remote staff’ on an ongoing basis should be seriously considered?
Sure, an effort will be required now to:
- Ensure staff have ALL necessary tools – computer, access to software, databases and necessary systems
- Adequate methods of communication ie Skype, Zoom Meeting and the like
- Update staff role expectations and responsibilities
- Agree performance goals
- Implement appropriate cyber and password protection
- Ensure your staff are working in an appropriate environment (OH&S obligations remain)
- Seek feedback from your staff
As our latest industry analysis shows, these are great protocols for your business whatever the time and circumstance:
|Key findings (Future Ready VIII*, Jan 2010, Business Health Pty Ltd)|
|Practice Management Attribute:||
Increase in Practice Profitability (compared to those who don’t)
|Up-to-date job descriptions||
|Individual performance objectives||
|Performance reviews conducted in last 12 months||
|Seek staff feedback conducted externally||
What we have learnt from our US clients who have already gone down this path, is that, while technology facilitated communication is effective, nothing can fully replace the benefits of face to face meetings, so video is a crucial tool. As are strategies to bring staff together into a central location for an update or training day on a regular basis.
People like and need to feel part of a community (in this case, their colleagues). A focussed effort on regular communication, preferably utilising video conferencing technology such as Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting etc, will be required.
It is, of course, absolutely imperative that the important indicators for your business (client and staff feedback, productivity and response times for example) are regularly monitored, measured and reported. By these means, a business owner can decide if they like what they see, and if WFH is worthy of consideration for the longer-term.
Perhaps the biggest challenge of all lies with the business owner, whose 100% commitment is required if their ‘remote staff’ initiative is to succeed. Leading by example, a willingness to entrust others and delegate whilst creating open and frank communication – these are surely great qualities to have across all aspects of the business?
And when COVID has finally left the building, make sure you set aside time with your staff to thank them for their help and to ‘discuss, share and learn’ the good and the bad of your response to this crisis. And, how the best lessons can be fully leveraged into your business. You could perhaps do the same for your bush-fire affected regions – heaven knows those folks will need support even more now than ever!
For your consideration.
*Future Ready VIII whitepaper, analysing the results of 250 Australian practices who ‘HealthChecked’ their business during 2017 – 2019.
Some links you mind find useful/interesting on the topic of WFH: