By Dorothy York, President and CEO of North American Precis Syndicate (NAPS)
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to reorganize and adapt by enabling people to work from home in new and more productive ways, which could become permanent solutions with multiple benefits. There are several tools that can be used, in the office or remotely, to create a more engaging environment and to motivate employees to perform more effectively and efficiently.
Employees who are trustworthy will do better and may prefer the WFH arrangement to be long lasting or permanent, if properly managed. For those that are not trustworthy, which monitoring tools and performance evaluations can easily reveal, they may need to be liberated to do what is a better fit for them. In the office, it’s easy to see if someone is not working. They may be on inappropriate websites, having nothing to do with work, they may spend a lot of time chatting at the water cooler, or they may leave for long periods of time, without signing out.
Managers need to create a balance between giving creative, talented, well trained and smart people the freedom to do good work, without micromanaging, while holding people accountable for their time, which is precious, and making sure that they are on track to meet their personal and organizational goals. Incentivizing people to act can be more than just giving financial rewards. People respond to a variety of organizational stimuli, such as praise, recognition, a sense of purpose, and feeling of accomplishment.
Good managers need to provide strategy, encouragement and set goals which are realistic and attainable, with benchmarks for performance along the way. Periodic evaluations will help to ensure that work stays on track and is in alignment with short term and long term goals.
Even the best managers can sometimes see that performance is lacking in good workers, and that may be due to outside factors such as work-life balance issues, personal goals that are not in alignment with organizational goals, or temporary health issues. Knowing what is causing the dips in performance can help managers to understand what needs to be done to compensate for that, whether it is allowing time off, counseling, or possibly agreeing to an amicable separation, if goals are not in sync.
The challenge managers face when allowing people to work remotely is developing a system to monitor performance and to provide the same reinforcements that are available in the office. Without the proper software, management becomes a leap of faith and can feel a bit like flying blind. There are several tools that can help to keep managers and staff working productively from remote locations, and can also work just as well in the office. Here are just a few:
1- Slack: This is an online place where people can get work done together. Unlike email, conversations in Slack are easier to follow and are more than just conversations. You can make calls, share files and connect with other apps.
2- 15five: This helps to:
- Maintain the levels of collaboration and productivity you are used to in the office.
- Improve the employee experience and help retain your rockstar talent. This will help promote transparency and trust across all levels of your organization.
- Empower managers to become effective coaches for their teams.
- Support the development of your employees so they will grow with your company.
- Align individual goals to the company objectives.
- Gain visibility into your workforce and measure engagement anytime.
- Generate high levels of performance by fueling a deeper motivation.
- Uncover issues and challenges that are blind spots for leadership
3- Time Doctor: This is a leading time tracking tool which provides productivity analytics for data driven decisions. Here are some of the uses:
- Can show which websites and apps are being used.
- Integrates with payroll processing and billing automatically.
- Works on any device and integrates with any project management tool.
- Alerts people to stay off social media and other time wasters.
- Gives off track reminders by nudging workers when visiting non-work related sites.
- Tracks attendance and gets alerts for employees who are late.
- Tracks breaks and time spend away from a computer.
4- monday.com: This helps to manage teamwork effectively. This can be set up in minutes to:
- Manage everything in one workspace.
- Choose from hundreds of visual and customizable templates or create your own.
- Integrate with your existing tools.
- Automate the repetitive work in seconds so you can save time, avoid human error and focus on what matters.
- Visualize work with Views to see data as a map, calendar, timeline, kanban, and more.
5- Basecamp: This is an all-in-one toolkit for working remotely. This is great for people that are stressed, whose work seems scattered, whose projects are slipping and are finding it tough to see and manage everything. This will help organize everything in one place, help the team work together, even though they are apart, help managers and staff to stay on top of things and to restore a greater sense of calm. They literally wrote the book “Remote/ Office Not Required” to show employer and employees how to work together in any place, anytime, anywhere, and showing how to avoid common pitfalls, learn best practices and get up to speed quickly.
6- Nutshell: This is an inexpensive CRM tool, like Salesforce, which will help with:
- Sales automation
- Team collaboration
- Reporting and performance tracking
- Pipeline management
- Contact management
We’re all in this together and we are making changes that will make us stronger, healthier, happier and more prosperous in the years ahead. I’m proud of the work our team has been doing under challenging circumstances. While many businesses have suffered, or even fallen by the wayside, others are innovating and adapting to the new environment, to maintain or grow business, with the help of a few simple tools. We embrace the changes and look forward to continuing to strengthen our business in the new normal.