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In light of COVID-19, many companies have unexpectedly asked a large cohort of their employees to work from home. Without time to prepare for this, leaders, whose teams normally share an office and who now have been thrown into working from home, have been presented with a host of new challenges. How can one lead effectively when employees are greeting each other with instant messages than face to face interactions? When meetings are held via Microsoft Teams rather than in-person? Read on for our advice for managing a remote workforce. Clarity of goals, expectations, guidelines First and foremost, leaders need to prioritise the setting of clear boundaries and guidelines. At its most basic this involves setting clear expectations for work hours, availability, communication methods, meetings, key projects and deadlines, and responding to emails. For example, “We use video conferencing for our daily check-in meetings, but we use instant messenger/chat when something is urgent”. After this you need to convey what is success. Don’t worry so much about what is being done, concentrate on what is being accomplished. If we are meeting goals, great! If not, then we need to look further into what is being done. Everyone has a different idea of what doing something “quickly” or “well” means. Whether showing examples of what you expect to be done, an overview of how you schedule your day etc. make sure you set clear expectations from those you work with. And finally, use this time as an opportunity to re-clarify the basics in order to ensure everyone understands their role and how each person contributes to team objectives. Clarifying and re-clarifying goals will help people understand what is expected of them. Over communicate While communication is always essential for leaders, it becomes even more essential when your team is working remotely. A challenge experienced by many when transitioning from in-office work to remote work is the feeling of disconnection and isolation which hinders an employee’s engagement and productivity. Given the current environment and people’s anxiety surrounding COVID-19, this feeling of disconnect and loneliness is probably heightened. Therefore, it is important that you over-communicate with your employees. Your staff members are probably used to talking to you every day so make sure you regularly check-in. This could be a daily series of one-on-one video calls if your employees work more independently of each other or a team video call if their work is collaborative, or a mix of both. The important aspect is that these calls are a regular feature and that employees know that they have an opportunity to discuss any concerns or ask questions. Embrace video conferencing and have regular team meetings and continue to foster team morale by taking the time at the start of each meeting for general chat such as asking about people’s weekends, how they are feeling etc. Trust Being thrust into a remote working environment, as a manger it can be tempting to micromanage. However, doing so will only make your employees feel like you don’t trust them and impact their engagement and productivity. After you have set clear expectations, you must have faith in the employee that they will get the job done. Being trusted to get things done is a big motivator for people. Finally, as it’s been an abrupt shift to remote work for many, it is important for managers to acknowledge that this transition might be difficult for employees. Listen to your employees’ anxieties and concerns and offer them encouragement and support.
With the majority of our teams now working remotely, the challenges of creating and maintaining company culture are evident. Technology can’t replace what the workplace provides: community, camaraderie and shared purpose. Now, more than ever, maintaining culture matters. Here are some ideas on instilling company culture across remote employees: 1. Connect Back to Your Values & Purpose For many of our staff currently, working remotely has been unexpected and in the face of a global health crisis, many are at a loss for what to do. For some work may feel insignificant now, so as their manager this is your time to help employees find meaning and reconnect back to your company’s values and purpose. While you may not be a company at the frontline, you still have a positive impact on people’s lives. Remind your employees of how their contributions add up to something much bigger and that we are all in this together! 2. Communication is Key Communication within divisions, one to one, social gatherings, company updates, all need to be consistent. This maintains relationships and promotes inclusivity. Create an open and transparent communication policy. This allows people to be themselves and feel comfortable reaching out via online chat platforms. Set expectations on communication methods. Where do meetings take place? What tool is for social sharing? Finally, you need to put an emphasis on positivity in your written communication. With the absence of face to face interactions in virtual conversations, it is easy for tone to be interpreted negatively so you need to be extra careful to be positive. 3. Mimic the Water Cooler Effect As mentioned, many of our staff are currently missing the day-to-day work interactions they have with their colleagues. Therefore, assign a platform where team members can live chat, share files, post photos and collaborate throughout the day to mimic everyday office life. This can be where some of the best ideas and knowledge can be shared yet at the same time promotes inclusivity and the sense of “team”. 4. Trust In a remote team, there aren't any silly rules about being in your seat during certain hours of the day. This means at the end of the week you either have something to show for your week or not. This means you trust that your teammates are getting something done. But also, that your teammates trust you. To earn that trust you want to make sure you have something to show for your work each week. 5. Focus on Health & Wellbeing In the midst of a global pandemic, now is not the time to forget about your wellness programme when stress and anxiety is elevated. Make sure to check in with remote employees that they are taking breaks, finishing on time, and are maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Make online workouts available to your employees allowing them to take part in physical activity. Perhaps set a company challenge such as a step challenge to get employees engaged in physical activity and as a plus networking with colleagues. For those struggling with sleep or anxiety, provide access to meditation or breathing courses. And to look after financial wellbeing consider organising webinars on topics such as managing a household budget, how your pension works, setting financial goals etc. 6. Rituals and Traditions Creating traditions with your team members, regardless of how often they happen, helps keep teams cohesive and encourages open communication and trust. Before you were thrown into the digital remote working world, undoubtedly you had traditions in place for how promotions, achievements and even birthdays were recognised. To keep spirits up, it’s crucial you keep celebrating these milestones. 7. Ask for Feedback Finally, the introduction to remote working has been unprecedented for many of us. Therefore, ask employees for honest feedback and suggestions. Use a pulse survey to get real data on this. "You don’t need everyone physically together to create a strong culture. The best cultures derive from actions people actually take.” Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, Authors of Remote
Sigmar Recruitment and Alison today announce a COVID ready learning partnership as part of the emergency jobs initiative www.covidresponsejobs.com. The initiative is an online platform set up by Sigmar Recruitment to help connect the displaced workforce with current frontline job opportunities, and to upskill the restricted workforce to enhance career prospects and enable a faster economic recovery. Alison, one of the largest learning websites worldwide, is now offering access to all of its courses free and unencumbered through www.covidresponsejobs.com. The learning content being offered through the platform has been hand curated to reflect in-demand, recession-proof skills across an array of business and IT disciplines, including; data science project management customer service accounting web development computer networking e-commerce The core learning has been paired with lifestyle courses covering mental health, stress management and practical content on parenting while working from home for example aimed to support those working remote throughout the crisis period and beyond. The learning pathways have also been designed with jobseekers in mind with content on public speaking, job hunting, personal development supported by jobseeker advice on how to compete in the current marketplace, including tips on video interviewing, digital collaboration, remote onboarding and much more. Commenting on the partnership, founder of the initiative and Sigmar CCO Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig says: “As one of the world’s largest free learning platforms, Alison presents an excellent opportunity for newly unemployed in Ireland to upskill. The learning content has been COVID curated for maximum impact encompassing business skills, IT skills, mental health and personal development. We also aim to support the restricted workforce by providing upskilling opportunities during the downtime, to better equip our workforce to rebound from the crisis in the medium term.” Speaking at the announcement, Alison Founder & CEO, Mike Feerick stated that the gesture is one Alison is happy to make. “While being a global learning business, most of our team live and work in Ireland and know personally people whose employment has been jeopardised by the coronavirus pandemic crisis. Alison has over 1,500 free certificate and diploma courses, in subjects from project management, languages, IT, to health & safety, elderly caregiving, MS Excel and free courses on GDPR. “If you have been laid off, it is an opportunity to build up and strengthen your workplace skills to enhance your chances for employment in the months and years ahead. We are delighted to partner with Sigmar on the COVID Jobs Initiative.” www.covidresponsejobs.com is a for purpose “Team Ireland” initiative created by Sigmar Recruitment, supported by Alison, Candidate Manager, The Irish Times and Communicorp, established to mobilise the Irish Workforce.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen hundreds of thousands of people lose their job, both temporarily and permanently, Sigmar Recruitment is today launching an online platform to connect jobseekers with employment opportunities as well as offer upskilling opportunities for the restricted workforce to ensure a smoother return to the workplace once the isolation restrictions have eased. The initiative is online for ease of use by those at home. Jobseekers are invited to register on the website, so that employers can make direct contact for current opportunities. Jobseekers sign up for a daily email, which will inform them of companies that have immediate vacancies on either a permanent or temporary basis. Jobseekers can then apply directly to employers. The site also offers highly relevant jobseeker advice on how to compete in the current marketplace, on a range of workforce topics, including tips on: video interviewing online engagement social branding digital collaboration remote working COVID restriction employee rights societal consciousness remote onboarding and much more Furthermore, the website also directs jobseekers to free online training to support upskilling during down time. Employers can post immediate or short-term staffing requirements for free so Sigmar can keep supply chains running and redeploy Ireland’s workforce that have been affected by COVID-19. Employers can also “shop direct” for talent on the website. Commenting on the initiative, founder of the initiative and Sigmar CCO Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig says: “www.covidresponsejobs.com was created by Sigmar Recruitment to support displaced workers and employers during the COVID-19 outbreak. Our aim is to connect people who have been impacted by short-term business closures with employers who have seen rising demand for frontline staff, those in healthcare and those needed to keeping Ireland’s supply chains operating. “The economy has temporarily stalled and the traditional recruitment process is on its head. However, the current pandemic has created new positions especially in retail, distribution, manufacturing and the health sector, to include many administrative, customer support and back office roles. In addition, we are actively supporting many other organisations balance business continuity with sustainable employee flexibility throughout the crisis.” Commenting on the restricted workforce, Mac Giolla Phádraig adds: “With the introduction of the COVID 19 Wage Subsidy Scheme this week, a significant cohort of the workforce is now likely to be retained, but with restricted workload. We aim to support the restricted workforce through upskilling during downtime, to better equip our workforce to rebound from the crisis in the medium term. “At this time of national crisis, we all have a responsibility to play our part. At Sigmar, we have adopted a frontline first approach and will deploy all resources available to us to support the national interest. “ www.covidresponsejobs.com is created by Sigmar Recruitment, supported by Candidate Manager, The Irish Times and Communicorp
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