Boom. The current developments and measures associated with the spread of COVID-19 have hit us like a blow — worldwide. It’s a situation that’s never been seen before. On some days, you feel like you’re in one of those disaster movies, which you’d normally watch with a bag of chips and a glass of wine or beer curled up on the couch. As long as the story only happens via common streaming services, we love it. But now it is really knocking. Knock, knock. We are confronted with unique situations in our everyday lives that we have never experienced before, and it’s changing things.
The way we work has changed from one day to the next.
It has also affected our professional situation. The way we work has changed from one day to the next. We are facing completely new challenges that need to be mastered. Home office is the keyword of the day.
At OTRS Group, we are in a lucky position in this respect. Working from a home office is familiar territory for our employees, because we have always lived with a free choice of workplace. This now has the advantage that our colleagues do not have any difficulty with settling in or changing over, but are instead experienced with working in virtual teams, so there are not any interruptions or downtimes.
In plain language this means that crisis or not crisis, there are still many companies that are unprepared to support their workforce in working from home for extended periods of time.
Are Companies Prepared for Working At Home?
Working at home is not yet common practice in all companies.
A 2019 global analysis of home office data and statistics compiled by Merchant Savy states that only 61% of global companies currently allow their employees to work from home. In Germany, only about a quarter of employees benefit from teleworking, home office or mobile working. This is the result of a study* by the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) and the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW).
In plain language this means that crisis or not ciris, there are still many companies that are unprepared to support their workforce in working from home for extended periods of time.
Serious cuts affect the mood and can slow down productivity at work.
Even if everyone deals with situations like the current one differently, such serious cutbacks can affect the mood in the work environment and slow down productivity as people face anxiety, fear and a sense of insecurity. In fact, according to the psychological student counselling service in Austria*, a crisis-laden life situation can manifest itself through psychological symptoms, physical complaints and in social relationships, such as:
- Fear and panic
- Feelings of helplessness
- Skewed perceptions
- Constricted thinking
- Concentration difficulties
- Uncoordinated, aimless actions
While every person may not experience a real personal “crisis” right now, it will very probably have some effect — in the workplace too.
However, as a person responsible for leading your company and making sure your teams provide great customer service, you have the task and obligation to perform your job with the highest possible commitment and the best possible result.
What are your options for maintaining productivity during such exceptional times?
Read eight tips that can help you.
1. Show appreciation and understanding
Special times require special empathy. Your employees are people who are in a situation that is new to them. One person may be stronger and another weaker. Looking at each person as individually as possible and taking their concerns seriously increases employee satisfaction. This principle is particularly effective in exceptional situations. Recognition, even for possibly lower performance, is now important and keeps people motivated.
2. Document business processes
Especially in volatile times, additional tasks may be taken over with short notice. Therefore, documentation of business processes should be an integral part of your work – no matter whether you use a ticket system, e-mail or paper files. With a seamlessly recorded process sequence, it is easier for colleagues to carry out tasks that were previously performed by others. It also significantly reduces the time required for familiarization with what’s expected.
Think about a short, morning stand-up meeting in which any upcoming changes can be explained in compact form.
3. Share information in the right way
There is much uncertainty these days. This is true among your employees and also with regard to certain specifications, changes or measures that may be required of people. Keep your employees up-to-date, but filter between relevant information and information that could cause unnecessary confusion. Think about a short, morning stand-up meeting in which any upcoming changes can be explained in compact form. This is also a good way to get a routine feel for the team atmosphere and mood.
4. Minimize emails
Excessive email traffic is a well-known problem and causes stress. If, due to an exceptional situation, a lot of additional information is sent out, unnecessary emails should be avoided even more so. Think twice about the relevance of your information and the people involved before sending a message.
Especially in employee coverage situations, missing information about the status of an inquiry or project is often the cause of delays. Here, shared inboxes help to process requests: Even better, ask for service management software that allows you to view communication steps as well as decisions centrally.
“Smile though your heart is aching” is already part of a well-known song. Do it. You’ll see. It helps. Especially in difficult times, a laugh or a good mood often works wonders. Make a joke more than usual and give away an extra smile. It will come back to you.
New, unusual, creative working methods can also ensure a good mood. Creativity is in demand and desired. Break out and try something new.
6. Live a positive culture of mistakes
One learns from dealing with crises when many things are new and must first be tested. Mistakes will happen. No employee is helped if you point a finger at him or expose him publicly. When someone feels doubted, it can lead to a “cover-up” in the future. Instead, live an open error culture by encouraging your employees to talk about their mistakes and also by talking about your own. Change the viewpoint in the team and use mistakes to generate added value for the future by optimizing or changing processes.
Now that a lot of experimentation and testing is required, virtually nothing is set in stone. So stay open and change processes or responsibilities quickly and easily.
7. Stay flexible
Be flexible in every respect. Now that a lot of experimentation and testing is required, virtually nothing is set in stone. So stay open and change processes or responsibilities quickly and easily. At the same time, also allow your employees flexibility wherever possible, such as with regard to working hours. And, if they cannot work from home, perhaps there are ways to make office hours more relaxed and flexible so that they are better able to react to changes in their private lives.
8. Worry about your employees
Even if we are in difficult times, this does not mean that people are automatically more resilient. Yes, many employees will be loyal and will automatically and naturally give even more than they give anyway or be willing to work overtime. Surely there will always be moments when this will be necessary. But keep an eye out so that this does not become a permanent situation. Keep in mind that, during times of crisis, employees may possibly have a greater burden than usual — not only in their jobs but also in their private lives. Watching out for situations in which people are over-stressed helps prevent colleagues from falling ill from it and in turn keeps the company moving along successfully.
In everything you do, remember that we are in an exceptional situation these days. In such situations intuition and empathy are always needed. So, productivity becomes about cooperation, care and responsibility in days like these.
We wish everyone well over the next few weeks. May you get through this time productively and stay healthy.