As every business gets to grips with the new normal, and prepares to emerge from it, New Digital Age has launched a series featuring tips on best practice for success.
Christian Polman, CSO at Ebiquity: Moving beyond the basics of home working
If there’s one thing we didn’t lack at the start of this crisis, it was the steady flood of articles providing tips and tricks on making home working a success. But with elements of home working looking increasingly likely for the foreseeable future, now might be a good time to circle back and reassess where we are, what we need to adjust, and how we can get even better to ensure teams stay motivated, engaged, and successful.
While working from home is starting to feel like the ‘new normal’, there’s no doubt that the current remote working situation is still asking a lot of our teams. Never have organisations of several hundred staff – let alone those into the thousands – managed a workforce based entirely at home… and for this long.
Communication among your marketing team remains paramount. Ensuring no one falls through the cracks, feels cut adrift, or suddenly uncertain of objectives and timeframes requires continued focus and attention from managers.
When we look at home working there are three levels to consider: the basics – covering the thing you simply have to do; the best practices that allow you to adjust to the new normal and incorporate rituals for individuals and teams; and the gold standard, which include the things that people will remember long-term. All three need a brief refresh in light of where we are in our remote working journeys.
Getting the basics right
When it comes to the basics, it’s still all about connection and communication and that, in a word, is video conferencing. We were one of Zoom’s UK launch clients and have taken our use of video conferencing even further as a result of this crisis.
But it isn’t solely about video conferencing anymore; it’s time to remember a more nuanced approach to communication. Different channels work better depending on the occasion, purpose and person – email can be misinterpreted; unstable Wi-Fi can make video more frustrating than fulfilling; and instant messaging can lack gravitas.
Add to that recent evidence that too many video conferences is taking a toll on our brains, potentially impacting concentration, creativity, and energy levels. Maybe there was a point to offices after all… but for now its critical to make this work, and that might mean turning the video off from time to time.
To achieve best practice, remember to find ways to recognise good work, and conversely manage criticism. If you must find fault, now is the time to choose your words carefully and deliver it constructively. If conflict does arise have a proper conversation.
And best practice is not just about the work; during a normal working day there are myriad social interactions that add up to a happy workplace. So, find time to socialise remotely – over a coffee, with a quiz, or a pre-weekend drink. I’ve even heard of remote wine tastings.
Consider virtual wellbeing for staff – establish a regular yoga class or meditation session. Remind people of the support and helplines that are in place, either within your organisation or for the public at large. The base level of anxiety has risen for most people amid this pandemic, so managing mental health is vital.
Achieving gold standard
And so, we come to the gold standard, the highest level of home working and the one that involves most thought and consideration, but the one for which managers and organisations will be remembered. This is about having a clear sense of purpose – how is the work your team is doing connecting back to helping your company or society to get through this challenging period?
Doing this successfully involves determining the shared strategy and vision of your team as well as the importance of the role that they play, so there is a shared sense of responsibility. From there the respect of work colleagues and teams can be nurtured and this, in turn, goes hand in hand with mutual trust.
Overall, despite the stress and uncertainty, there are upsides to this. Stay connected to the bigger picture stuff, it’s still a beautiful world out there, and while we have seen terrible events unfolding, we have also witnessed humanity in the world.
While we didn’t choose to go through this, the silver lining is that it does offer the opportunity to get to know colleagues better, as people, and that will count for all the years to come when the pandemic passes.”