The COVID-19 outbreak has given rise to an alternative workplace – home. Not even co-working spaces and not even cafes, it’s all about home now and we don’t know for how long. As the uncertain future looms in front of us, businesses across the world are trying to cope with this phenomenon by letting the workforce work from home while also managing the liability of running a business. Even in India, it is announced for businesses with private limited company registration and LLP firms to give the team the right to work from home.
For the startups, it gets tough because most of the people in the team are interdependent to move things faster. The agility is the key while also ensuring that the remote functionality remains intact. Leading the team working from home needs setting up a work from home policy and deliverables by the end of the day.
Here’s how to get started:
Setting up a reporting policy
Since most of the startups do not have the luxury to give the systems with pre-defined configuration and tracking mechanisms. Therefore, setting up a structured reporting policy is a must. The best way to do so is to find a common platform, something that’s available even on mobile so that people without the system can also join the conversation. Start asking the team to install Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack Messenger, etc. Get the whole of your team to report on a particular time and share the work report. The remote IT guy can help you set up the tool like Asana, Jira, etc. where project management can take place. As a founder, you can see people logging their activity and you can monitor those by the end of the day to see what your team is up to.
Becoming a Scrum Master
Being a leader, you will have to take charge before anyone else. You cannot rely on your staff to take up other responsibilities. Therefore, the onus to fill up the vacuum in such a situation is on you. Start using Scrum methodology for effective management wherein you the team can stay agile while working from home. You will have to play the role of a scrum master to define the flow of information within the organization as people stay far and wide – away from each other. You will rise as a leader in this situation only if you could help the team to improve interactions and organize them to perform better.
As you hold a team meeting with various departments, give 10 minutes to each department that defines their goals and propose a plan of action. You, as a scrum master, should be there with them to remove bottlenecks, if any, and provide them with a secure environment that motivates them to work effectively.
Small businesses will need deliverables daily where founders play a significant role to connect with key personnel and keep them motivated. There are ways through which employees can stay productive while working from home during COVID-19. Ask them about their schedule personally, and see if that is enough for them to get things done. As a founder, you will need to exercise control initially as everyone takes time to adapt to the ‘new normal’.
Work from home is full of distractions for many who live in a big family or have a small house. For them, productivity is a matter of skillful balancing because they have to be at the top of their game during working hours. These working hours clash with running daily chores, meals, and even kids playing around. Therefore, you also need to comprehend their situation. It will take some time. No change is easily achieved and especially when faced with the times like pandemics, you are never sure of what’s next. The key is to understand each employee and talk to them personally to get the best out of them.
Keeping Them Motivated
The last thing your employees need this time is performance pressure under the risk of losing a job. The world economy is collapsing and soon we will enter a recession zone which will create the highest unemployment. It is natural for working-class people who live with month-on-month survival to worry about their future. The business numbers are going down globally, including the stock markets. If that red downward arrow is troubling you, remember, you are not alone. As the entire world fights the battle sitting inside their homes, you, as a leader, should be the last one to bring anyone down from your team.
A true leader rises when the odds are not in their favor and you look someone to blame on for the dwindling business. It is time to reinforce positive motivation to keep your team pumped up. If you have a WhatsApp group, start with appreciating individual efforts. Pick one person every day and tell them how they add value to the team and share something over voice notes in the group so that everyone appreciates it. Such dark times need some hope and positivity, and as a leader carrying the burden of the whole business, it’s your time to shine the brightest.
If you apply other tactics or if you are already managing a remote team, kindly share your experience in the comment section. Also, tell us about how you cope with the COVID-19 Pandemic and what measures are you taking to ensure business and employee safety and productivity.