For a lot of organizations, one of the biggest challenges stemming from the pandemic is adjusting to long-term work from home (WFH) arrangements alongside, or even displacing, working from the office (WFO). There is a cascade of adjustments that stem from this one difference, affecting virtually every aspect of work.
These challenges are especially concerning for managers, who have to navigate leadership roles in a new era. In order to ensure that team members are performing at their best even under extraordinary circumstances after the pandemic, here are a few tips for managers.
Plan for Equality in Scheduling
Probably the biggest shake-up caused by the WFH setup is what happens to personal and work-related schedules— especially for employees who are parents. In a BBC article, Melinda Gates asks whether gender equality at work will increase in this changing world. Jean-Nicolas Reyt of McGill University cites data that shows remote working mothers are balancing duties better, partly because fathers are taking on more.
Linkedin’s Rosanna Durruthy points out that leaders will need to step up and think about childcare working around the rapidly-disappearing 9-to-5 as it relates to both WFH and WFO. Equity also relates to areas like disability and racial health disparities, and poses challenges for a manager’s schedule, too, so if you want to respond to your team members’ needs, you need to build these into your hybrid plan.
Leadership That Values People
To expand on the previous point, it’s important that leadership be people-centric. Managers with organizational leadership qualifications are better able to blend skills in business and psychology for people-centered leadership. True leadership isn’t about eking the most numbers out of a team, but about prioritizing the value a person can bring to the company.
Prominent businesses with this philosophy include Marriott and Costco, both of which have withstood adversity for decades running against purely data- or shareholder-centric models. From making people-centered company policy decisions, to simply spending time among staff, there’s great value in this approach.
Keeping Employees Engaged
One area to pay attention to in a people-centric approach is engagement. Having engaged employees is part and parcel of creating consistent, quality output. We’ve previously written about how motivation also lowers absenteeism and improves in retention of high quality staff through things like showing appreciation and setting expectations. Creating a positive workplace culture, and therefore outcomes, is a major role that managers play, especially after the pandemic.
Focus On Wellbeing and Health
The pandemic has forced us all to check in with ourselves. Forbes reports that 66% of employees expect to be in a hybrid work style after the pandemic.
One of the biggest challenges of WFH for employees is stress relief. Software can be a double-edged sword from the management side here too: instead of using monitoring software to put pressure on team members, consider what the data says about their patterns and needs. Talking directly to employees using video calls, rather than through just emails or messages, will help put a much-needed human touch on proceedings. Managers can also implement de-stressing practices within the organization that different employees might prefer, such as yoga, meditation or book club.
All in all, solving existing and anticipated issues by centering your team and their relationships, rather than making them points on a graph, is key to a better, healthier, and more productive work culture out of the pandemic.
Written by Ivana Landen