2020 has several names, but one of them is certainly "home office". Due to the global state of emergency, in businesses where this was possible, work from home replaced the usual work routine
2020 has several names, but one of them is certainly "home office". Due to the global state of emergency, in businesses where this was possible, work from home replaced the usual work routine. According to the WFH study in the Age of Coronavirus by Construx Software from April 2020 with data from 63 countries around the world, before the state of emergency 78.6% of respondents did not work from home often, while after - 97% of them perform their tasks from home. The availability of technical and social solutions for communication and productive work without personal contact has allowed us to take a serious step towards long-term change of the corporate environment.
But the interpretation of the home office as an opportunity or a threat depends on the extent to which an organization can operate online and objectively have the time and resources to technically support and train its staff, with minimal risk to their physical and mental well-being, says Dr. Yulika Novkova , business psychologist.
She cites data from a joint study with Milen Velikov, Human Resources Manager, conducted weeks after the start of the state of emergency in Bulgaria. It shows that the answer to the question of how working from home affects productivity is ambiguous. Of the more than 1,900 employees surveyed, 57% switched entirely to work from home, and 27% continued to work from their usual places. For 31% there was no change in the volume of work, for another 33% the work in the organization has decreased, and for 22% the work has increased after the introduction of home office.
Therefore, the question is how do we work from home. "For organizations that so far have not offered any form of work from home, the biggest difficulties stemmed from the lack of tools for digitalizing processes, as well as the lack of technical skills and established processes to perform tasks. The focus was "survival." The risk of declining productivity was high when management was not prepared to support its team in the new working conditions. Organizations that have long outsourced some of their processes or operated entirely online have been given "growth opportunities." The results of the work are easily tracked through the reporting systems, but it was also important how all the people in the process feel”, she explains.
A Data Pro, a company in the field of information services and business intelligence, has been offering the option of working from home for years, but the pandemic causes a need for change, especially in the departments that have usually worked in the office. By the beginning of 2020, between 20% and 30% of the company's employees will benefit from the opportunity for a home office, both at the operational and management level. After the state of emergency, this percentage is expected to increase to perhaps 50-60% of employees in the short term.
"Within 2 to 3 weeks after the introduction of 100% home office, productivity and efficiency have stabilized, so it did not really affect the business. To stay close to its employees, I think, was the biggest challenge for the management ", explains Milena Ilieva, Human Resources Director at the company. According to her, creating and developing an environment of "transparent" and timely dialogue between the company and the employees will be one of the challenges that will remain after the end of the pandemic.
Yulika recommends applying the principle of minimalism in both physical and digital environments - to identify and apply the smallest changes necessary, leading to the highest, subjectively and objectively perceived effective results. It is good for the organization to provide proactive and empathetic support to key employees, who are clearly in need, in order to protect them from burnout. "The small questions at the right time when something is wrong - such as “How are you?”, “What's stopping you from performing your tasks today?” - bring ease to both parties," she added.
Under the # StayTоgether brand, A Data Pro has launched initiatives for informal communication between the people in the company, workshops for the little ones and a chat platform for useful information during the state of emergency. An internal podcast was created, through which the management was giving more context to the organization and the business environment, thus reaching a wider range of employees. "We all realized the need for each other, we appreciated the cooperation between different teams and departments and the need for synergy between people and technology, in order to adapt quickly to the changing conditions. It rather gave impetus to certain processes that had started before and regardless of the pandemic, "explains Milena. Therefore, in the future the company will increasingly focus on communication skills, ability to adapt to change, flexibility and thinking outside the box, proactivity and cooperation when hiring staff, because these skills proved to be key during the emergency period.
Both of my interlocutors are giving some important advice to managers, who will probably work with even more scattered teams in the future.
"Crises are crises because they affect people. Sometimes managers fall into the trap of looking at numbers and indicators when trying to find solutions for the company. Let us pay attention to the people in our team, instead. Maintain active communication with them, support them ", says Milena.
"Digitalization of the business allows us to reduce the pressure for results while increasing the engagement of employees through care. It is good to provide proactive and empathetic support to our key employees, when they are clearly in need, in order to protect them from burnout. It is good practice for productivity measures to include subjective well-being as well, allowing employees to feel free to control their workload per day / week within reasonable limits, while having clear criteria for good performance”, adds Yulika.
According to her, the organization must remain open to the needs of its customers and employees through transformational models for managing people, processes and tasks, because sometimes this is how creative and innovative solutions are born which increase the competitiveness of the entire organization.
"Do not lose sight of the situation. If you delegate responsibility here and now, you will be able to focus on the longer-term challenges and opportunities of the situation, which would only benefit the sustainability of your team and company in the future", Milena concludes.