Engagement in the time of social distancing

As the country emerges from the lockdown, organisations are deliberating on best practices that will help ease the transition of employees from WFH mode back to the office with minimal disruption while ensuring their safety.

Engagement in the time of social distancing

Monday September 14, 2020,

4 min Read

There is not one person, one industry, or one nation that is unscathed by the novel coronavirus outbreak. This unprecedented challenge has forced businesses to reinvent themselves by embracing technology and adopting new work culture.

For example, when lockdown struck in the month of March, companies across each sector were forced to allow their employees to work from home (WFH). Likewise, employees had to adhere to this new system without any prior heads-up, arrangements, or alerts.

Team managers were handed over the daunting tasks of managing and leading various teams virtually through video calls and remote collaborations in addition to bringing new business ideas to the table as existing ones were either moving away or delaying retainers.

Researches have revealed that anything done constantly for 21-30 days becomes a habit. Fast forward four months, with the ‘unlocking’ in progress, resuming office for most people is going to feel a lot different and challenging.

The changes, at first, may feel unreal, with people wearing masks and avoiding physical contact to maintain social distancing. There are a lot of assumptions about how the “new normal” will unfold as we go forward. However, it will be important to maximise virtual connections by delivering not just work, but services and culture remotely as well.

By far, people across organisations have become adept with the current style of working. The wheels of the engines have got back on track with a heightened sense of responsibility towards work. People now understand the importance of taking a collaborative approach towards work, rather than working in silos. Moving away from the cubicles has led to enhanced collaboration and formation of strong, close-knit teams who work together to find solutions to the workplace challenges in much more efficient manner.

The use of technology to communicate effectively while working from home has taught everyone to work from everywhere, be it an office or a café. Tech-enabled platforms and unified communication tools have brought in different perspectives and voices.

Everyone is finding themselves in a position to make a difference. There is sense of shared purpose that is leading to greater solidarity and stronger bonds among team members.

In fact, even during the downturn triggered by the novel coronavirus-led lockdowns across the globe, people have become more resilient -- be it at work or holidays. There is a touch of personalisation in every team, given that they are at home and also getting to understand the nuances of working from home with the family around and getting to understand each other better.

However, as the lockdowns ease, preparing them for resuming work from the office and supporting them with every logistical aid is of utmost importance. As we all know, the danger has not subsided yet. So, it becomes imperative for companies to provide a safe, hygienic, and cordial work environment, whether their employees are working from office or home. They should not lose sleep over having to go back to the office after such a long time.

Employees’ wellbeing and family connect initiatives are very crucial here. Not only does it contribute a great deal in making people understand that the company stands by them through thick and thin, but also gives them a sense of worth that their efforts towards the organisation are appreciated.

Initiatives such as these alleviate the fear and uncertainty, and help the organisation support its workforce through individualisation. These can also become ways to maximise employee contribution and ensure that they keep their best foot forward for business priorities.

As per the ‘Unlock 2.0’ regulatory framework, the government has specified that all government and private organisations can function at a 50 percent workforce. This means that one half of the working population can work from office while the other half from home on an interchangeable, rotational basis or as deemed fit by the organisations.

While there will be certain uncertainties on the mode of work and team collaboration, the prevailing confusion is bound to make it difficult for teams to operate. However, businesses will need to guide their employees on how to get the job done and set realistic expectations so that they adjust to the new paradigm.

What is needed at this juncture in the business world is to devise strategies which would enable organisations to engage better with their employees and enable them to work together effectively.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)