Bev Shah: The accidental working from home experiment – part 2

In the second installment of this column, City Hive's Bev Shah continues her tips to corporates as workforces adjust to working from home

In the second installment of this column, City Hive’s Bev Shah, CEO, co-founder aswell as editorial panellist for ESG Clarity, continues her tips to corporates as workforces adjust to working from home

Some of the greatest discoveries have come from accidental experiments – Penicillin, play-doh, insulin, x-rays, microwaves, vulcanized rubber and safety glass to name a few.  And after this period of lockdown the way we work will never look the same.  The 9-to-5 in the office will look like a throwback to the 1950s.  Your employer will need to come up with a good reason why you can’t work flexibly.

And although en-masse working from home has been thrust upon us, how many firms were ready?  And even if you have a suite of policies in place none probably take into account many of the elements the covid-19 crisis has added.

So, following on from my last column I wanted to share some advice we have been sharing with City Hive’s corporate members that you may want to consider ensuring your teams can work successfully during this crisis. 

Set realistic KPIs

Look at any study about those who work from home and they will show productivity levels as high.  But we need to be realistic that this is not business as usual.  So, it is important to set realistic objectives and focus on outputs and deliverables.  This may be easier in some roles over others.  Email timestamps and response times are not a good marker for productivity in this instance.

Be vigilant

Grief is the only way to describe how the majority of people are processing this crisis, so it is important for managers and colleagues to be vigilant of behaviour changes. Mental health issues are on the rise with less support from the usual sources available. Although as an employer there is only so much you can do, ensure your staff know what options are available to them and who they can speak to in confidence if they need to. Encourage physical exercise and mindfulness. 

Domestic violence has also increased during this lockdown and although we would hate to think that any of our colleagues would be affected ensure that all staff know who they can call for help.

Managers need to be open minded

Remember that not all managers have been advocates of WFH so when forced upon them they may need to be encouraged to embrace it and equip them with the right tools to make the working relationships within their teams harmonious. After all you want to retain your talent after this crisis.

Don’t forget the kids

Schools are likely to be closed until September with the burden for home schooling being placed on parents. It is likely to impact your female staff more if the anecdotal evidence is anything to go by.  If you are committed to improving diversity, then ensure you put some policies in place to support the new home schoolers.  And do not penalise them for something that is out of their hands.

Holidays

Many people who would have planned holidays for this period and booked time off will now have cancelled. If they did not receive a refund, then they will have been offered vouchers to use by a certain date.  It is important you plan to have enough staff in the office if everyone reschedules for the same time. Ask staff to confirm dates before they rebook to ensure crucial staff do not overlap.  For those who have not yet booked time off, buying back holiday time could be an option but ensure this is fully costed before offered.

Sickness

Ask staff to report if they suspect they have the covid-19 virus and sign them off for one week then check in with them to see if they need longer to recover. They should not try and work while ill. Also, ask them to let you know if any of their close family gets very ill. This will be immensely stressful time and they may need some compassionate leave.

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Natalie Kenway

Natalie is global head of ESG insight for ESG Clarity and has been an investment journalist for 16 years. She won Editor of the Year at the Aviva Investors Sustainability Media Awards 2021, and was Winner...