So how should organizations handle CORONAVIRUS & similar situations? We are in a situation today, that most of us could never have imagined – the entire world is fighting a pandemic and global economies are reeling under the effects of the lockdowns. Almost all countries have asked companies to ensure that their employees are working from home and while this is a solution that will ascertain a greater level of safety, it is causing a lot of problems on the work front. There is a little confusion about leadership roles, decision making is getting delayed and there is a general air of isolation, which is leading to a whole range of other problems for employers as well as employees.
If you are an employer or are heading the team for the organization that you work for, there are some changes that you will have to bring about, to handle the ongoing situation:
- It is important to understand that this is not the kind of situation that any of us have been through. Even when there have been epidemics, they have been a lot more localised, which is perhaps why a global lockdown is something that we have not experienced in our lifetime. This means that a change in culture definitions is what will be needed first and foremost – efficiency will be highly reliant on how flexible organizations can be in such times and although works need to get done, it is not necessary that there has to be an office like atmosphere created at home.
- In times like these, rather than a centralised governance, you might have to look at a more collaborative system – if employees have to keep returning to the centralised system, decision making might take lot more than it usually does. While that might work ok for smaller firms, when it is a larger organisation, it might lead to delays, unwarranted tensions and even losses. It would be wise to create a proper framework that allows for a lot more localised autonomy – this means that for smaller decisions, employees will not have to wait for approvals to come from the top down.
- To create a collaborative system of governance in your organization, you will have to start deputing more people and the decision making process will have to be a lot more widespread. However, the decision making power will have to allocated not based on levels of seniority, but based on actual talent and merit. By doing this, you will also clarify the roles that each member of the team will have to play in the days to come. This one step will also clarify the chain of communication that will have to be maintained.
- The entire team, starting from the interns working in the team to the top management needs to understand exactly what is going on presently and what could be happening, at least in the next few days. The people in power need to integrate a sense of awareness and ensure that all the relevant information is passed down the chain of order precisely and regularly. The top level management also needs to realise that team members will need a certain amount of time to comprehend and adjust to the same.
- Because a situation like this is not something the world has faced in the recent past, there might arise the need to make some drastic changes in the company culture, but the top rung of the management will need to understand that the team members will need time to adapt to the changes. Since many of these changes can be tough, mistakes will be made and the management will have to be willing to accept them and give the time to mould themselves to the new set of rules. Flexibility will become a keyword and there will have to be a lot more patience and trust, every single day.
- There is an old Chinese proverb – When the wind of change blows, some people build walls, others build windmills and this could not be more true than the situation the world is facing today. Social distancing and working environments that are far from the traditional ones, are making things quite tough and tough times call for tough decisions too – companies need to trust their employees a lot more and provide them with a certain amount of autonomy. The culture in the workplace needs to be adapted to one that can function just as effectively and efficiently from a remote location too.
- In order to ensure proper efficiency, you as the employer will have to provide a range of tools for your employees – these could vary from regular meetings, proper usage of social media, access to instant messaging software and emails to track the work. All these tools will lead to the creation of an organic work circle, wherein every employee will get to express their views and there will be proper chances for growth. These channels should not only be for work, but also to allow the employees a certain amount of inter-personal time too – remember, if the employees were in a normal work day, they would have been allowed coffee and lunch breaks!
- Although you might see that information and messages are flowing from one direction to another, but it is crucial that the information being sent is clear and aimed at the correct targets. You will have to try your hand at building a culture wherein there is a transparent flow of information, so that everyone is aware of what is going on. With all the information in hand, employees will be able to solve problems a lot more efficiently and there can be an overall reduction in tensions that could otherwise emerge.
- If one were to ask how is culture created, the answers would be extremely different from what would be considered regulation in regular times. In times such as we are in now, there has to be more of a culture of purpose than anything else – each employee should have the facilities required to work responsibly, a chance of reconnecting with each other and an open space where they can vent their feelings, without the fear of repercussion and judgement, because when working from home, there will eventually seep in a feeling of frustration. All team members should still be able to find a sense of purpose at work and they should be able to maintain the same level of initiative, they have had before.
- Finally, there have to be certain human elements – whether you are a boss or an employee, you need to be a lot more flexible. You will have to understand that things are working differently, but the work needs to be done. As a boss, you will have to show your human side and empathise with your employees and as an employee, you will have to understand the stress and pressure your boss might be undergoing.
And finally, remain hopeful and optimistic, because as they say, this too shall pass!
References for ‘How should organizations handle CORONAVIRUS & similar situations’