Before theCOVID-19 hit the Philippines, most Filipinos reported to physical offices in the fulfillment of their day-to-day tasks. When working onsite, employees had few distractions to their productivity. They also had the chance to build rapport with their superiors and socialize with their teammates in person. But in the interest of curbing the spread of the coronavirus, many Filipino companies from various industries have since pursued remote work arrangements. These days, it is the default for many employees who have taken a job hiring in Manila to do WFH or “work from home.”
WFH has some obvious benefits. Employees no longer have to spend as much time or money journeying to and from work. That allows them more time to rest, as well as more opportunities to bond with their families. But there are also some drawbacks to this setup, as not all employees are inherently well-equipped to work from a home office. Timely communication and delivery of outputs may be a challenge if the employee lives in an area with limited internet connectivity or mobile signal. Some employees also have a hard time finding the right equipment and software to replicate their office setup. Still, others struggle with newfound responsibilities, like needing to help their kids with online class, and are thus still trying to achieve the perfect work-life balance.
As employers must know by now, it’s quite a challenge to keep employees engaged, productive, and satisfied with their work all at the same time. But being able to adapt properly to WFH, setting the right conditions for employees, and upholding morale will prove extremely rewarding in the long run. If you can overcome the difficulties that plague remote work setups and establish a WFH system that works for everyone, your company will survive another day. Not only will your employees find it easier to earn their livelihoods—they’ll be equipped to do their best even in difficult circumstances.
If you head a business and want to improve your current remote work system, here are five ways to keep your WFH employees engaged. Implementing these changes will do wonders to your employees’ productivity, as well as their general wellbeing.
Determine Your Employees’ Current Levels of Accessibility and Connectivity
The first thing on your agenda should be to assess each employee’s connectivity and access to company resources from home. This should give you an idea of which tasks employees may find the most difficult to fulfill, as well as the best way to help them.
For example, one of your employees may not have easy access to consistent WiFi where they live. You could loan the said employee a portable WiFi USB stick for use on their computer. You may have already done this with your current employees, but don’t forget to assess again whenever you onboard a new employee. Your HR staff can help you survey the needs of each new recruit, and then you can decide the appropriate action.
Establish Touchpoints for Regular Contact
One of the greatest difficulties of remote work is that communication is no longer as instantaneous as it used to be. But even if you and your employees can no longer talk to each other face-to-face, it’s possible to maintain regular communication with each other. The important thing is for you to establish communication touchpoints and agree to reach others there.
It would be good for all of you to settle on particular communication channels to use for work, like designated emails and instant messaging apps. You can also agree upon a particular time in the week or during the month to have a team-wide virtual meeting. In a WFH setup, communication needs to be as consistent and structured as it possibly can be. That will ensure that everyone’s on the same page, no matter where they are. If you have set touchpoints and reasonable agreements about communication, there’s a likelihood that you and your employees will still run like a well-oiled machine.
Set Reasonable and Workable Schedules
A harsh reality of the “new normal” is that your old work schedules may not be as conducive to the timely completion of tasks as they used to be. You and your employees need to budget each hour of the day differently so that you can attend to your various responsibilities. It may not be productive to demand the same amount of face-to-face correspondence as before, or to stick to the exact same deadlines for outputs. If that’s the case, you should be asking yourself what kind of schedule could work for all of you. You might be surprised at the improvement that even a small adjustment to the schedule can bring.
If you’ll take this approach, have a forthright discussion with your employees about what their home schedule looks like from day to day. You can identify which times in the day they’ll be most productive versus the times they’ll need to attend to other urgent matters. The goal should be to maximize the productive hours and to allow your employees some breathing time in their schedules—all while still maintaining professional discipline.
Give Incentives and Reward Great Behavior
Another difficult thing to reconcile about post-pandemic work life is that there are fewer things to look forward to. Your employees may not say so outright, but they may be feeling less motivated to step up and challenge themselves at work. You can help them rebuild their confidence and inspire them to bring their best to work by offering incentives and rewarding good behavior.
For example, your onsite work may have included opportunities for their professional development, like corporate training sessions. You can see if there’s an online equivalent that they can accomplish, and once they have, you can reward them with a bonus. It also wouldn’t hurt to give out traditional rewards, like a cash bonus for one whole year without logging into work late. The great thing about giving incentives is that your employees will be encouraged to do their best—and to be good examples to each other.
Celebrate Successes and Build Camaraderie Online
Employees of companies that already have an established office culture may be missing meals, after-work coffee dates, or karaoke sessions together. Being at home all the time may have left them feeling isolated and out of touch with one another. Perhaps there’s a way to adapt your old office rituals into ones that are appropriate for WFH. You can capture the spirit of these habits so that your employees can still feel welcome, appreciated, and like they’re part of a team.
Once a month, you can host a virtual karaoke session or game night with corresponding prizes. You can also initiate virtual company celebrations for meeting major milestones, like inking a partnership with a valuable new client. The closer you are to inspiring the same camaraderie and goodwill in your team as before, the better it will be for all of you.
There’s no telling how long companies will have to stick to the WFH arrangement for their employees. But as long as it is the default, you must make the most of these new working conditions. For every change you implement, make sure to monitor it closely and keep the feedback loop open.
It may not be the easiest time in their careers. But your employees will do their best if they see you demonstrate adaptive, compassionate, and forward-thinking leadership. From wherever their home offices may be in the meantime, keep your employees engaged, productive, and united in their purpose. That’s one of the best things you can do for them, as well as your own company’s future.