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Because of the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic, work have changed considerably over the past two years.
Because of the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic, work have changed considerably over the past two years. Governments instituted regulations for social distancing in workplaces, which meant that companies and organizations had to limit the number of employees working within their offices. Now, with vaccination efforts well underway and as governments continue to slacken workplace regulations, many employees want to remain with remote or hybrid work arrangements.
A survey conducted in South Africa with approximately 200 professionals revealed that 79% of respondents worked remotely during the 2020 lockdown. The survey also reported that the majority of professionals now prefer a hybrid working setup. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. A study done in 2014 by Nicholas Bloom, a William Eberle Professor in Stanford University’s Department of Economics, revealed that employees who are given work-from-home options tend to be more productive, happier, and less likely to quit.
Therefore, more and more companies and organizations in Africa recognize the need to offer some form of hybrid or remote working option to stay relevant and competitive and to also boost employee satisfaction and loyalty.
Managing remote workers is much more complicated than managing office-based workers. Here are some insights into the best ways to manage remote or hybrid workers.
The choice of when to have work-from-home days should not be left to the workers. Every company or organization has employees with different needs and challenges. For example, a company may have married employees with young children and workers with disabilities. Suppose such a company institutes an open work-from-home policy. In that case, the married executives with preschool children and workers with disabilities are likely to request work-from-home days more than other employees. Supervisors or managers tend to give workers who spend more time in the office better performance evaluations. Hence, people who request more work-from-home days are likely to progress much slower in promotions and raises.
A uniform work-from-home policy (that applies to all employees) can remedy that. For example, many companies worldwide are using the 3+2 hybrid working model, whereby employees are required to work in the company’s offices three days a week and work from home for the remaining two days.
If intentional provisions for inclusivity are not made when setting up office meetings, people who work from home may end up falling through the cracks, which may result in misinformation and less productivity. Therefore, when meetings are conducted, ensure that all the workers concerned, i.e., those in that particular department or project team, can participate, regardless of whether they are in the office or working from home on that day. One way to do that is by making video conferencing the standard mode of communication for office meetings, preferably using the company’s tailor-made video-conferencing application.
Another way to handle the issue of inclusivity during meetings is by making it mandatory for all employees concerned to come to work on meeting days. That way, face-to-face meetings can remain the norm.
A project management tool or platform tailored to a company’s needs is essential for seamless, frequent collaboration between workers. Such a platform will enable project managers to keep tabs on assignments, reports, and various other deliverables assigned to employees and will allow them to provide adequate feedback without having to request face-to-face meetings.
Also, companies should ensure that employees are well facilitated to work from home. Some companies leave remote workers to fend for themselves in terms of travel costs and internet expenses. Others even refuse to release company property, forcing their workers to use their own laptops and working equipment when working at home. As a result, remote workers can have a hard time keeping up with office-based workers.
Trust is vital when managing remote workers. Companies must be willing to give remote employees the benefit of the doubt because proper facilitation of all remote-worker needs is fundamental to the long-term success of any institution.
The workforce dynamics in African companies will continue to diversify. Arising management problems are an opportunity to adapt and create working environments ideal for all employees. Employers must find practical systems that allow them to manage their workers better. It is the only way to overcome rising challenges and guarantee future prosperity.
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