It's fair to say that the 2020 hasn't been the year that most people expected. Covid 19 has turned people's work and personal lives upside down.
Entire industries have been decimated, hundreds of thousands of people have been made redundant and many more jobs are being propped up by the furlough schemes.
It's not all bad news though. Many industries are thriving and many new companies have emerged, started by determined entrepreneurs backed into the corner but ready to come out fighting.
From a social perspective, one of the most significant shifts is the amount of people now working from home.
The Office for National Statistics recently published the following;
- In April 2020, 46.6% of people in employment did some work at home.
- Of those who did some work from home, 86.0% did so as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
- Of those who did some work from home, around one-third worked fewer hours than usual (34.4%), and around one-third worked more hours than usual (30.3%).
- Women were slightly more likely to do some work at home than men, 47.5% and 45.7% respectively.
- People aged 16 to 24 years were less likely to do some work from home than those in older age groups.
- Occupations requiring higher qualifications and more experience were more likely to provide home-working opportunities than elementary and manual occupations.
These figures make pretty interesting reading. To see that 86% of people working from home were doing so because of COVID -19 shows what a huge impact this pandemic has had on working society. We don't know if or when society might return to normal or even what normal is anymore.
12 months ago I'd regularly get a train to London from Manchester for meetings, but now this doesn't seem so necessary. What else will change?
The thoughts of business leaders towards home working have shifted significantly too. I repeatedly hear things like;
"we no longer require an office if our people can work remotely"
"we can work more flexibly, with jobs being part home, part office based"
"we find our teams are getting a better work life balance at home"
"we've found that our people are just as productive working from home as they were from the office"
These statements might be true, or just the opinions of the most vocal. But are these leaders really talking to their employees to measure how they're feeling?
The Ten Space engagement model has 4 pillars for engagement - Connection, Fulfilment, Leadership and Wellbeing.
In brief, we examine;
- Connection - Do employees have a voice, feel informed, buy into your mission?
- Fulfilment - Do employees feel proud to work for you, get rewarded and feel challenged?
- Leadership - Are you bringing out the best in your teams and helping them to thrive?
- Wellbeing - Do employees feel safe, secure, and supported, both emotionally and physically?
For some employees, working from home can have an extremely negative impact across all 4 pillars. They might lose their connection with the business because they don't have the exposure to the leaders like they did before. They my feel less fulfilled with their work and disengaged with the leadership team which could affect productivity.
Finally they might start to feel less safe and secure in their role and start to welcome conversations about other opportunities.
If you let your people work from home its vital that you put the correct framework in place to make sure they remain engaged. Working from home is solitary by nature so its really easy for people to become disengaged, unhappy and unproductive. Business leaders need to work harder and find new, more innovative ways to engage with their employees.
Our top tips for keeping your employees engaged when working from home are;
- Get really clear on what success looks like, set great goals, objectives, outcomes and timeframes and let your team get on with it.
- Create time in your day / week to connect with your team. On a one to one basis, this is a great opportunity to check in on wellbeing, address any personal concerns they have, offer them support and continue any career conversation you've been having
- On a team basis, it's an opportunity to keep the collaboration and team working vibe going and to provide them with updates on business performance and any changes that they may need to know
- Don't forget about recognition, a little can go a long way. Recognising the heroics, the sacrifices or even just the reliability and consistency will be really valued by teams who are being challenged
- Role model great behaviour for working from home and setting a balance; e.g. set your own working hours and stick to them - this will signal to your team you don't expect them to always be "on"
- Keep embracing their families and their personal lives, their cats, their dogs, their goldfish and their kids. This personal connection is what great working relationships are made of and will really help to keep engagement high
For help and support with your employee engagement strategy, contact Victoria Bond at Ten Space - email@example.com