The COVID-19 pandemic has changed what we all perceive as normal. With the majority of the workforce hunkered down in their homes, the first week seemed novel. As the days drag on, the toll begins to rise. Countries with extended lock-down or stay-at-home orders are experiencing an unexpected casualty of this work from home scenario. The employee.
Juggling work and home is always difficult – work from home veterans have more established routines to do so but when they are literally in the same physical place and/or for a prolonged period, it is obvious that management and leadership needs to take heed. Many employees find it difficult, challenging, loss of sense of belonging or workplace, long working hours and more. Stress goes up and efficiency goes down.
As employers, the economic impact is apparent. No one knows when the economy will turn around and many forecasts put rising unemployment, negative growth and the word recession gets thrown around. Yet, at this time, I believe it is very critical to be able to balance productivity and empathy. Taking a page from New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, probably the first country to be out of the COVID-19 lockdown and reducing numbers to single digits; she’s a great leader because she communicates extremely well and is an empathetic leader. Her best words when facing this unknown threat was that we are a team of five million. We all will get through this. All.
90% of our team members are working from home. As a result, we consciously upped our people engagement and ongoing communication time and priorities. It is easy to get lost in trying to manage an organization during crises, but it is equally important to focus on ways of communication and connecting on a personal level and instilling empathy within the workforce – more so when the isolation of working from home is weighing down on the team. is doubly important when working remotely.
For Brandt International, we look at the workforce and economy, and ensure that our leadership outlooks include plenty of empathy – balancing productivity and that of our staff welfare.
Our TWO KEY must-haves are based on
- Trust (Integrity and accountability are inclusive) – the team needs to be able to trust each other and trust the leadership. We win that trust with our integrity, honesty and open communication. We are a team of 700. And together, we will get through this.
- Transparency and openess – the team needs to know how to get help if they need it. Their feedback and suggestions are also not ignored. No one is perfect but we focus on better each time and every day.
With a virtual workforce, checking in with the team on video, having a coffee chat or just a text chat on whatsapp may seem trivial before. Right now, it becomes essential. Without an office to escape to or a home to retreat when things get bad, our team needs us leaders to be there. And when we do, you will get the team with you – all the way.
We will be launching a series of webinars and training focusing on Managing Virtual teams as well as Leadership in times of adversity so do contact us or watch our webinar page for the latest updates.
Eugene is the Director of Marketing, Commercial and CX at Brandt International. With over 20 years in various industries and start-ups, his passion lies in Customer Experience (CX) and User Experience. He is rather OCD about design and interfaces in particular. Mildly diagnosed with ADHD, he drinks too much coffee and generates ideas at random times all the time.