In this series, we’re sharing content from our partners that provides actionable guidance on managing your business and taking care of your workforce both during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 is shifting the makeup of the global workforce by the minute, and its effects will continue even when the pandemic phase has passed. Millions around the world joined the remote workforce nearly overnight, and companies are continuing to adapt as the situation evolves.
In this article, we’ll explore insights from two of our strategic partners, Accenture and PwC, about meeting the needs of the remote workforce during the pandemic and beyond.
People Come First
Many employees around the world are dealing with a new working environment that became their reality very quickly. For those who aren’t used to it, the adjustment may be a struggle.
One of the most important things company leaders can do is focus as much energy as possible on the health and wellbeing of their workforce. In its article “Human resilience: what your people need during COVID-19,” Accenture shared that the foundation of a positive response to crisis is trust: “Distilled to one essential message: your workforce is looking to trust you. And it will trust if it believes leadership cares for each individual, the community, and humanity as a whole.”
This global crisis is causing widespread fear and uncertainty, exacerbated by the constant stream of information and misinformation that bombards us all. Companies can ease the minds of their employees through clear, proactive communication about their response to COVID-19.
And beyond that, business leaders must share their plans, while candidly acknowledging that they’re probably in a state of flux. The author continues, “You don’t have to know everything, but you do need to be transparent about what is driving decisions. A leadership team that looks ahead proactively, and responds rather than reacts, goes a long way toward helping people in volatile times.”
Times of crisis are also key moments to let your company values be more than words on an office wall. Accenture shared this valuable reminder: “Integrate your company’s purpose and values into every communication and initiative. Shared purpose and values is what will give employees the sense of belonging they so desperately need right now. As quarantines and social distancing play out, employees need a sense of connection.”
Making Remote Working Work
A remote workforce is already a reality for many organizations. For companies that were already fully or nearly distributed, it’s as close to “business as usual” as you can be in a global crisis. But for many, a remote working model is being created by the minute.
In its paper “COVID-19: Workforce considerations,” PwC shares this important point: “The reality is that many organizations have not addressed the conditions required for working remotely — or how to do it well. The shift can be bigger than many companies realize, and productivity impacts are possible in the short term as teams learn how to collaborate with co-workers and connect with the company in new ways.”
Some companies hope to soon return to “normal”—that is, return to offices. But others may only partially return to their previous working model, and this period of time will provide a valuable trial run for a remote workforce. PwC reinforces that while this is doable, it’s not a turnkey process: “Longer-term, many companies will likely require more practice in transparent knowledge sharing, distributed authority, and encouraging active experimentation and diverse perspectives. Replicating the rich connections that people make while working in the same physical space in a virtual environment is difficult to get right.”
On a more tactical level, many companies may already have the infrastructure in place to support a remote workforce. But if not, there are a few areas to focus on to build a sustainable remote working model. Of course, data and system security are paramount, and network availability, including reliable VPNs, is essential. Remote collaboration technologies must be prepared to handle additional load, too. Teams that support all of these technologies and related processes should be scaled to meet the need. And employees will need to collaborate closely with their managers to adopt new rhythms, since the interactions we take for granted in the office may not translate easily to videoconferencing and emails.
In a time of crisis, ensuring that employees have what they need will go a long way to ensuring productivity—and well-being.
This article originally appeared on the Workday blog.