Article | November 16, 2020
As work was catapulted into the remote mode in early 2020, organizations struggled to keep up and stay afloat. As the nature of the work itself changed in many organizations, we saw some of the best leaders step up and take charge. Dealing with a dynamic workforce is challenging but remote workforce management comes with bigger challenges that cannot be comprehended entirely until one gets into the thick of it. Take a look at this employer’s guide to work from home policy.
A big part of keeping a business afloat is responding to the changes in the market, and COVID-19 was an unprecedented anomaly in the economy that hadn’t been observed by the modern world until now. And while the economy has remained shaky since COVID-19 hit, many businesses have evolved in this period to not only survive but actively make the best of this situation.
Media 7 talked to the experts in various industries to understand how they managed their workforce during this time of crisis and noticed a recurring pattern. Three big aspects of remote workspace management came through these interviews – Leadership, Communication, and Flexibility.
One of the key requirements for remote workforce management in any adverse situation is strong leadership. Without leadership, the team lacks direction and support. Leaders instill confidence within the employees that helps the organization weather the storm. And while COVID-19 has offered a unique set of issues, leadership tactics in such a time of crisis still remain similar.
Thankfully, the world is connected digitally today, so businesses can still function. But with the pandemic, uncertainty has seeped in and employee morale has taken a hit. SharpEnd has been trying to make an effort to address this specific issue in remote workforce management with their leadership team.
“One of the main things our leadership team is focusing on is mastering remote management and leadership. How do you keep the team motivated? How do you make sure everyone is feeling included? What are you doing on a weekly basis to make sure that it’s not just professional, but there are social elements as well? We’re being very respectful of the fact this is a lockdown from the greater world and not just from the office.”
Cameron Worth, CEO & Founder - SharpEnd
One of the key tenets of remote workforce management is relying on your employees. Your employees are the single most important resource of your organization, and they need to be treated in an appropriate manner. For most organizations, working remotely hasn’t even been an issue, but the pandemic has affected the company culture and the social element. LoadSpring has come up with ways to counter just that.
“To LoadSpring our employees are number 1. They are the drivers to our success therefore their safety is our key priority. We have had a work from home policy for years so 100% of our team had the technology to work from home for years. The transition to 100% work from home was easy. What is hard is keeping the culture, our culture, from falling away when people do not have an office space to come to and share. We already had tech, like video conferencing, to keep connected but now we use it more and make people turn on their cameras so we can still see each others' body language which makes people feel more connected. Also we initiated a video conference happy hour for our teams so we can all feel connected in a personal way. This was a game-changer.”
Stacey Witt, Chief Marketing Officer – LoadSpring
When crises like COVID-19 occur, uncertainty and doubt foster feelings of stress and anxiety. In such times, people crave structure, guidance, transparency, and order. This is applicable even in a business environment, especially in the case of remote workforce management. In a landscape scale event such as this, strong communication can offer a direction to your workforce and foster growth. Lane4 Management Group identified the role of communication in times of crisis and stepped up their efforts.
“I’ve always believed that effective communication is key to a successful organization and I’ve managed to maintain this with people in my team during the pandemic. However, this does mean I find myself on Microsoft Teams for a lot of hours during the week. What this situation has made me notice is that operating remotely can still be highly effective given the number of digital tools we have available now. Although I still maintain that nothing beats a face-to-face conversation over a coffee!”
Adrian Moorhouse, Managing Director - Lane4 Management Group
Some organizations have also been able to use this shift in communication channels and leverage it to enhance their remote workforce management through it. ENGAGE is one of the many organizations that has embraced the new normal and made optimum use of the technology to stay in touch.
“The focus of our work and the way we deliver it has had to shift significantly. For example, whereas much of our leadership coaching work used to be delivered in-person at clients’ offices, we are now doing all of our coaching remotely (via Zoom, Teams, WebEx, BlueJeans, etc.). This has been a seamless transition – both for us and for our clients – which opens up new opportunities for the future, even when we return to some form of normal.
Our own internal teamwork has shifted solely onto Microsoft Teams – we have short, 30-minute meetings each morning (“What’s coming up / who needs help?”) and evening (“How’s today been/ how are people feeling?”)
Luckily, the availability of so many collaboration tools, and the agility of both our own team and those of our clients to adopt these, has made the situation much more manageable than we could have predicted.”
Andy Brown, Chief Executive Officer - ENGAGE
As for organizations that lead with technology, the switch has caused no major upheaval. According to Phillipe Guiheneuc of Akio, their teams have seamlessly transitioned to teleworking as they were already equipped with the infrastructure and the experience to undertake effective remote workforce management.
“As an IT company, Akio is well equipped for teleworking - some of the teams were already doing it long before the coronavirus crisis. Because we work in the field of customer relations, we regularly manage sensitive periods with our customers, for instance when they face peak inactivity. The period of lockdown and the lifting of lockdown have therefore not caused any major upheaval in our business. For example, Akio has not had to use the administrative unemployment scheme; on the contrary, we seek at all times to increase the production capacity of the teams.
This is particularly true of the teams of IT developers, because they are organized in Agile mode, a work organization that easily adapts to remote working”
Philippe Guiheneuc is the Marketing Director - Akio
Flexibility is often talked about in respect to work timings and shifts. However, COVID-19 has changed the nature of this discourse and ushered in new aspects to remote workforce management such as location independent work and result-oriented practices. The organizations that have practiced flexibility since before the pandemic have been rewarded with a higher adaptability to crisis and changing cycles. Pricefx is one such organization that has leveraged their flexibility amidst the pandemic to execute sales cycles in a unique manner.
“Pricefx is a flexible work environment. Before the pandemic, we allowed employees to work in their home office or come to our office (whichever they prefer), and flexible working hours to balance work and life. The global pandemic forced us to reduce our global team travel to zero, and to lean in on how to execute virtual sales cycles and implementation cycles in a way we had not before.”
Patrick Moorhead, CMO - Pricefx
Schneider Electric is another organization that benefited from a flexible work policy in terms of remote workforce management. Their Director of Global Procurement Strategy, Sri Gopinath has had to change his global interactions from in-person to virtual meets, but even while working with several time zones, he has managed to stay on top of everything.
“Our people are already used to working in flexible environments; therefore, the pandemic was not a big shock when we were required to work from home if our role permitted us to do so. My role is global, which needed frequent travel prior to the crisis. I have maintained my global scope and interactions while working from home considering that I work with all time zones, which can get quite challenging when we are trying to work together or meet at a mutually convenient time.”
Sri Gopinath, Director of Global Procurement Strategy - Schneider Electric
Remote workforce management is one of the most important skills for business leadership today. Even as the world is slowly working its way out of pandemic-related adversities, it is clear that remote work is here to stay. Now, the onus of adapting is upon businesses and leaders, to step up and offer the right direction, clear communication, and the required flexibility to their employees in order to thrive when working remotely.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a remote workforce?
A remote workforce is a team of people working together virtually from various locations. Remote workforces are efficient and cost effective for an organization.
How do you effectively manage a remote team?
In order to manage a remote team effectively, one needs to have clear and specific communication channels that offer direction as well guidance.
How to manage a remote team?
There are several ways to motivate employees in a remote mode:
Plan virtual activities
Conduct webinars for upskilling
Encourage transparency in communication
Communicate expectations clearly
Article | November 16, 2020
How can HR practitioners attract and nurture a wholly diverse workforce, and why should they? That’s a big ask for one article, but in this piece I’m going to try to summarise the opportunities that employers have in recruiting a more diverse workforce. These days we speak a lot about employers’ responsibilities where diversity is concerned, and of course they do have a responsibility to be far more diverse and inclusive than they have been in the past.
Article | November 16, 2020
Significant changes in sustainable agriculture need to be made as our population rises and puts pressure on global food security. In fact, the global food system accounts for about one quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, consumes the majority of all freshwater, and is the leading cause of deforestation. By 2050, there will be another two billion people on the planet increasing food demand by 70%. Sustainable alternatives can ensure that there’s enough safe and affordable food. Using artificial lights in horticulture is one way to increase demand without driving up the resource usage.
Article | November 16, 2020
The Australian Financial Review on Feb 5 2020 carried a piece by Edmund Tadros in which the CEO of Rio Tinto, Jean Sebastien Jacques explains how he uses an internal management consulting team to do work previously done by external advisors. In responding to “The Australian Financial Review’s Annual Chanticleer CEO survey” Jacques admitted that Rio Tinto do use external consultants to provide specific niche expertise to support the Rio Tinto team but that he wants his core team to develop strategy and projects.
If large organisations are going to do this successfully, the vision needs to start with their Executive Search strategy. Essentially what this entails is the sourcing of senior executives to lead specific functions who have cross functional experience and capability. It may not be necessary for a C-Suite executive to be a real generalist but increasingly we are seeing examples such as Chief Marketing Officers who have been Sales Directors, Chief Operating Officers who have been Financial Controllers or Chief Information Officers who may have led a high-tech manufacturing operation.
The clear benefits that this executive search strategy produces are in the provision of at least a duality of skills to a specific role and also the potential to contribute effectively to an internal advisory team. Obviously, at this level, there is a reasonable assumption that the executive is operating at a high enough level to have his or her team operating independently and effectively. They must have the capacity as well as the capability to support broader strategic initiatives when working with with other executive colleagues as internal consultants.
This will often represent a significant change in behaviours and culture and the smart organisations are more likely to shy away from traditional advisory services in favour of executive learning that helps senior people and their direct reports create additional capacity, while developing broader capability via an internal problem-solving “language” of tools and processes that they are all familiar with.
Consequently, we start to see organisations who espouse the nurturing of their own teams, turning to the kind of leadership development support that is focused on transferring skills, enabling executives to be more effective in their roles and to make a broader contribution to their organisation.
In turn, this is more likely to produce organisations that are closely aligned behaviourally and through their business activities with the longer term mission, vision and values of the corporate entity.
#executive search #leadership development #advisory #riotinto #Jean-Sebastien Jacques