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Refocus the way in which you do business in order to improve productivity

According to Charles Darwin, it is not the strongest species that survive but the ones that are able to best adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which they find themselves.

Six months ago, if we’d told you that you would be asked to move your entire business to working remotely, you’d have laughed us off and told us it wasn’t possible. But COVID-19 has driven the need to refocus and adapt to a new normal. Right now, businesses around the world find themselves having to reassess their ways of working and transition swiftly to a more flexible, digital existence.

Although new ways of working present many challenges and may take time getting used to, a number of companies have used this opportunity to improve efficiencies and overall productivity. For example, remote working enabled by online communication platforms and collaboration tools, can encourage improved teamwork and knowledge sharing. It has given some people hours of their day back, which would usually have been spent commuting, thereby improving their work / life balance. And with data suggesting that a large portion of employees believe that they are more productive working from home, it is clear that remote work has its benefits and is here to stay. In fact, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has said that his staff can work from home permanently - “opening offices will be our decision, when and if our employees come back, will be theirs”.

Of course, remote work is just one example of a change that COVID-19 may prompt - some changes will be required to keep the doors open, while others will help companies seize opportunities to enhance efficiency and improve productivity. Either way, a resilient, adaptable workforce will be essential to success. 

So, whether your company has already successfully enabled employees to change the way in which they work or you’re still figuring out how to navigate the new normal, the question remains, how will you create a resilient workforce that is able to adapt quickly, now and in future?

Some questions to consider

Does your leadership style encourage flexibility and adaptability, allowing your people the freedom to find their feet during times of change?

How can you foster resilience in your workforce ensuring that your people have the confidence and ability to cope with and perform in a rapidly changing and unpredictable environment?

How can you equip your people with the skills they need to thrive in a constantly changing and unpredictable world? 

Do you need to adjust your performance management process to enable new ways of working?

Helping people embrace change requires a holistic and people-centred approach

Lead by example.

Change is inevitable. It’s happening now and it’ll happen again. By actively positioning change as a welcome challenge rather than an obstacle, employees will be more responsive and adapt more easily to new circumstances. Lead by example with resilience and a positive attitude, and it will set the tone of the experience for everyone. Fostering purpose, a sense of control and confidence in your employees will transform what could be a traumatic experience into one of growth. And if you can do this all with a sense of humour, you’re on the right path.

Encourage learning. 

You’ve probably noticed that some employees have hit the ground running with the new remote working technologies, while others have struggled to accept an online meeting request, only to spend the entire meeting trying to figure out how to unmute themselves. Some people find it easier to adapt to change than others and these sorts of situations can be stressful. They can also be reassuringly human, with an opportunity to laugh a little and learn a new skill. Highlighting the benefits of new ways of working and remaining humble in your approach will allow reluctant employees to take on the challenge and feel less alone in their adjustment. It is also important that employees are given the opportunity to continuously learn about the best ways to embrace new ways of working and manage difficult situations.

Provide people-centred support. 

With the relentless stream of COVID-19 pandemic news stories, lockdown rules and economic pandemonium across the globe, your employees are bound to feel restless and uncertain. The truth is, change can be stressful and uncomfortable. For example, one of our clients has shown their support by running regular wellness sessions for their staff to help them develop the tools they need to survive and ultimately thrive during this challenging time. Wellness surveys are another great tool to identify individuals who may need additional support and always remember to laugh. Individuals who are able to see the lighter side of life are usually better equipped to deal with challenging situations.

Manage performance. 

Working under a new set of circumstances, it may be that you need to adjust the ways in which you measure and track the performance of your employees. With so many shifting variables and goal posts, perhaps that rather than time, tasks or outputs are what really counts. Your employees may shine in a multitude of different ways that lie outside of their job description, but which show a willingness to learn, work and grow. Celebrating these wins is vital to retaining high spirits and a productive attitude towards work.

In summary

It’s important to ensure that your employees have the skills and knowledge they need to be productive during times of change. Emphasising the well-being of your employees will reflect empathy and understanding, and will likely result in their going the extra mile for you. Performance objectives may need to adjust, and communicating this is vital to your team. Change is an opportunity for employees to co-create solutions which will accelerate buy-in, and ultimately, success in the long term.