The 1st of May 2020 saw South Africa move from level 5 to level 4 of the national lockdown, a measure taken by the South African government to curb the spending to of COVID-19. This means that while essentials workers and an estimated 1.5 million workers will go about their business of work in this new normal, we find ourselves in, the rest of the South African population working from home: WFH (for those that are able to) will continue to be the new normal.
There have been many reactions to this new normal (WFH), some have embraced WFH, some miss the traditional office/worksite environment and can’t wait for things to go back to “normal,” while others are what I refer to as the missing middle.
Regardless of one’s inclination towards WFH here are a few things that both the employer and employee need to consider when WFH:
- Productivity: productivity should not be measured by the amount of time one spends working. Productivity should be measured by the quality of work one is able to produce within a set timeframe.
- Core Working Hours: WFH especially during this pandemic presents those WFH with challenges or circumstances that would otherwise not be present. Therefore, introducing Core Working Hours could be the balance that employer and employees need.
Core Working Hours are usually 5-6 hours of the normal workday in which all team members within an organisation need to be available for meetings, respond timeously to emails as well as actively attend to the business of the organisation. The rest of the workday can be more flexible.
Introducing Core Working Hours within your organisations will ensure that people remain productive while seeing to the other needs such taking care of elderly, helping the little ones navigate home-schooling and even looking after themselves.
- Make it social: WFH can be a lonely existence therefore, it is important that when WFH socialising with colleagues and team members be incorporated.
Studies have shown that the social aspects of the transitional workplace promote productivity and cohesion in teams. So as much as possible in the era of Zoom, Teams and Skype meetings set time aside to have an e-coffee with teammates, set some time side, maybe once a week, to have an e-lunch as an organisation. Better yet have a dress up team meeting where people can show off their quirky side.
This time should be spent reflect on anything other than the looming deadlines – use it to build community that’s places value on people beyond their direct contribution to the organisation.
- Routine: WFH requires balance, balance being the ability to recognise and accept that at any one point during one’s life cycle as well as during a single day, one aspect of life will take priority while the others continue in the background.
So, find a rhythm, leave room for agility and embrace the natural balance knowing that in the end whatever needs to be done will get done – it just won’t all happen at the same time in a single day.