In these “never normal” times, work from home has become the new imperative. Here’s how companies can stick to their value of being inclusive.
Do you ask your remote teams what would be helpful for them to be more productive in these unusual times? Or do you expect them to follow a one-size-fits-all approach on “how to work” or the exact same routine as when everyone reported to office physically?
Your answer may not be a clear yes or no. And that’s fine.
The sudden shift to remote working was not simple
In most organizations, the shift from working from office to working remotely happened dramatically, almost overnight. Leaders across industries and geographies had to ask their employees to convert their personal spaces into home offices.
Now that wasn’t as simple as saying, “take your laptop home, log in tomorrow morning and start work, exactly as you did when you came to office.”
Because every employee’s personal space has unique characteristics.
What are the differing environments in which people are working from home?
Here are a few scenarios:
- Employees who have young children. So, they are coping with their kids’ physical presence during work hours.
- Husband and wife who are working remotely together for the first time. While a female employee was always expected by society to be a professional, a mother and a homemaker with or without domestic help, the male employee’s parenting role has increased. He’s home with his children, when earlier he wasn’t. That’s a big change.
- Employees who also have elders and other dependents living with them.
- Employees who have disabilities and need similar support as they received in office.
How are managers ensuring work continuity and productivity in such environments?
A critical element is being inclusive in their approach to “how” work is delivered by remote and part-remote teams. It implies being empathetic to each team member’s needs. Let’s look at some examples.
Companies are allowing women with young children to log in and log off at best-suited times as they align their work hours with their child’s e-learning school schedules. Ola is encouraging its employees to take breaks and do their household work.
Axis Bank is offering virtual meditation sessions because as the Bank’s executive vice president Rajkamal Vempati, said: “It is time to be more empathetic. Managers realise that.” Others are providing online access to counselling or encouraging their people to take online skill building classes during traditional office hours.
Companies are ensuring that their fellow workers in small towns have adequate logistics. Thermax, a project-oriented business not used to remote working, provided dongles to its 3,000 employees and arranged for 300 extra laptops. InMobi upgraded its bandwidths. Blackbuck allowed its employees to carry their desktops home.
An inclusive and empathetic approach is critical to productive remote working
ActivTrak’s CEO Rita Selvaggi very rightly said: “One of the most important things is for employees and employers to understand that we’re all in this together and have shared responsibilities to make remote work productive.”
No doubt, progressive organizations understand that making remote work inclusive is as much a part of valuing employees as it is a part of strong business performance.
When you show empathy toward how your team members deliver their assigned tasks and your company gives the right tools to employees to help them feel empowered, automatically, your teams will connect with their work in a way that everyone benefits.