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
Onboarding is a broad term that captures many of the critical moments when a new starter joins your company and begins when your new candidate accepts their job offer from your business. Yet despite what COVID-19 has thrown at us, one common theme remains, onboarding is the process that ensures your new starters are ready for whatever comes at them, whether they’re based at home or in the office.
But if your new starter joined your business virtually, and you’re planning on moving back to the office, should you consider re-onboarding them to an extent, or was your initial onboarding enough to support them, and your business?
In this article, we take a look at why you may want to consider re-onboarding your virtual starters when returning to the workplace, and how you may go around re-onboarding employees who started remotely.
When the country shifted to working from home at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, employers were forced to switch entire elements of their business, including onboarding, to a virtual setting. But with more offices starting to see a return to work, albeit on a hybrid approach, should you consider re-onboarding the staff who began virtually over the past 18-months?
Re-onboarding and welcoming your staff back into the office will play a vital part in the success of your newer team as they grow and develop in your business, while also allowing your company’s social culture to flourish. Research from Glassdoor shows that organisations with strong onboarding practices improve employee retention by 82% and productivity by more than 70%.
The report highlighted that:
Great employee onboarding can improve retention by 82%.
Only 12% of polled employees think their onboarding was great.
Most organisations only focus 1 week on onboarding.
One way to look at this question is from a legal perspective. If your new joiner is coming into the office for the first time, then they’ll need to be informed of building processes, from something as simple as what the fire procedure is, to where the first-aider sits, in case they’re required to fill in an accident form. Then there are other assessments you’ll need to perform, such as a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessment that will identify what improvements can be made to an employee’s workstation.
But then there are also the more personal elements to consider for new starters like, security protocols (Do they need to be issued an ID badge?), conference room booking procedures, office rules (For instance, foods that are banned due to allergies), and even the more mundane things like where the tea and coffee making facilities and toilets are located.
Re-onboarding is not just about switching from your home routine and moving your staff back to the office; it’s also re-onboarding your company culture and the teams within it. The entire process should address, support and educate how your employees can reach out for support if they struggle to adjust to work back in the office, to covering topics such as requirements for returning to the office, how layouts and cleaning measures may have changed, and what your expectations are for how employees use common spaces.
But what are some common onboarding activities that could form part of your re-onboarding process?
6 onboarding activities that should be part of the re-onboarding experience
1. The dress code: If your staff have been working from home, you may have relaxed your dress code, but with staff returning to the office and beginning to undertake face-to-face meetings with clients, you may want to reintroduce the dress code to your new staff.
2. Defining the employees’ workstation: With both new and established staff coming back to the office, part of the re-onboarding process could include defining the employees’ workspace. Do they have a COVID secure place to work? Do they have all the equipment they need?
3. Order security cards and keys: With most offices having a secure entry system, do all of the pandemic new-starters have the required keys to get access? At this stage, you may also want to review your offboarding process, have you removed/collected these from all of the staff who have left during the office closure?
4. Face-to-Face introduction to the team: Perhaps the most missed perk of being based in the office, your re-onboarding experience offers a great opportunity to introduce your new staff members not only to their team but also to the wider company, including key figures such as management and health and safety officers.
5. Organising a work tour: This re-onboarding task can extend to both your new starters, but also your existing staff. If you’ve introduced social distancing elements to the workplace, you can use the tour to explain them to all of your staff, as well as introducing locations like meeting rooms, the kitchen and other shared spaces to new staff.
6. Review all policies, such as safety and security policies: Whilst some staff have joined your company, you may have also had some staff leave during the lockdown, so as part of your general re-onboarding, have you considered reviewing all of your policies from Fire Safety to Health and Safety? Do you still have enough trained staff on-site to cover your legal duties or do you need to invest in training for your staff?
Article | November 16, 2020
As Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are impacted by Coronavirus, many are turning to CPAs for advice as they navigate through these complex and fast-changing business conditions. Below are some suggestions from CPAs across the province to help SMEs understand government wage subsidies and tax relief. Most SMEs are looking to benefit from tax relief and financial measures. Noah Jensen, CPA, CA, in Cambridge, is advising all his eligible clients to claim the federal government’s 10 per cent Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers for immediate cash flow relief. But, he explains, the benefits of doing so will be felt in the months to come.
Article | November 16, 2020
The ongoing impact and disruption that Covoid-19 has bought with it, is unprecedented in our times. Whilst boards and chief executives seek to stabilise the ships of their respective company operations, as global share prices fall and entire employee bases shift to increasingly remote ways of working. Emergency boards and workforce crisis strategy meetings are in session, where HR leaders find themselves being called upon to provide people-focused, business advisory, whilst influencing decision making and championing the principles of good management.