As companies move employees to work at home, providing them with remote access tools like VPN’s and maybe laptops and try to figure out video conferencing tools to use, there are some key mistakes I’ve already guided a few companies through and some I’ve seen. Here’s some key considerations on how to avoid some damaging mistakes.

  1. Expecting instant productivity: Workflows are going to change. Some employees may not have a designated workspace at home and they will need to set one up, moving rooms and furniture around. This can actually take a while and people will be adapting.
  2. Understand Adaptation Time: Employees need time to adapt to a new situation. The usual change management rules and processes are tossed out the window in a forced situation. People adapt differently. Some will jump right in, while others need more time depending on their personalities and home situations. Some employees live with roommates, while others may live alone and others have families. Remember, for families with children and spouses, they will have to make additional adjustments. They need to set boundaries with their kids and roommates and find quiet spaces. New routines need to be set.
  3. Don’t buy spyware: Some companies are buying and trying to install spyware to monitor employee productivity. Don’t. At some point, employees will find out. You could be facing a huge social media crisis, litigation over invasion of privacy and a loss of employees when work returns to a new normal. This is bad management at it’s worst.
  4. Establish Routines: A tactic I’ve advised some clients is to set routine check-in calls aside from various productivity meetings. Some do a morning video conference with departments and teams, other do a late afternoon and they do it daily. This helps to establish a routine and can be supportive to workers as well.
  5. Allow for Idle Chatter: People need to vent and emote. Allow for some idle social chatter at the start or end of a virtual meeting. For management, this is also a way to look for stressors in employees so you can understand potential risks and help them in advance.
  6. Do Personal Team Check-Ins: Call or video conference with direct reports where you can and be sure to ask them how their home life is, but in a respectful way and accept if they are reluctant to share personal information. You have no legal right to inquire, let them be forthcoming.
  7. Collaborate on workflows: Workflows and how work is done will change. Hold video meetings as soon as you can to see how people want to work, collaborate on new ideas. Keep in mind that what you decide at the start will more than likely change and that’s key. This is hard for managers, but necessary. Mindmapping tools can help.
  8. Be careful about adding new tools: It is always tempting to add new digital tools that may seem really good and don’t need the IT department to help. Be careful though. Shiny new objects can lead to confusion very quickly and when the crisis is over, may result in key corporate data being left somewhere in the Cloud when the tool is dropped.

I’ve a few more pointers if you’re interested and fee free to contact me at giles_at_ekspansiv.com and we can chat.

About the Author Giles W. Crouch

Giles Crouch is a digital anthropologist and CDO/CIO. He spent over 20 years in globally-focussed marketing communications for technology products and services, but his roots are anthropology in a modern sense. He uniquely ties his deep knowledge of technology, marketing, design thinking and design anthropology as a polymath to help clients seeking digital advantage in today’s complex world. Giles has been regularly interviewed by international news media on topics such as social media, blockchain, artificial intelligence and it’s impacts on society. He is a passionate practitioner of design thinking and anthropology. Giles is prolific writer and public speaker, lecturer and keynote. He has also completed over 250 netnographic research projects since 2009. His secondary activity is as Group Publisher with Human Media Inc.

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