Technology

The new normal: Navigating workforce challenges during and after the pandemic

By Jana Reserva

May. 5, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted workforces around the world into remote work or a different environment than what employees are used to. 

Businesses are making adjustments to their operations in adherence to social distancing and in joining the fight to curb the pandemic. 

As the search for a vaccine continues, it seems like flexible work will be here to stay.  But what does that mean to the workforce? And what must managers do to help navigate the new normal involving remote work?

Same principles, different times

Jacob Morgan, an author, speaker and  authority on leadership, employee engagement and the future of work, said in a recent blog post that more companies will embrace flexible working arrangements. 

remote work, mask“With the current pandemic, millions of people around the world are working from home,” he said. “This will likely continue over the coming months but even after the pandemic is over, I expect we will see a dramatic rise in flexible work arrangements. However, in order for these efforts to be successful organizations need to use a new set of digital technologies and embrace a new way of working.”

Morgan also wrote about the things top companies do to succeed at implementing flexible arrangements during COVID-19 and even after the pandemic. He mentioned implementing the right kind of technology according to an organization’s unique objectives.

“Before rushing to pick that shiny new collaboration and communication platform, focus on developing a strategy which will help you understand the ‘why’ before the ‘how.’ This is crucial for the success of any collaboration initiative,” he wrote. “You don’t want to be in a position where you have deployed a technology without understanding why. Especially during this pandemic, make it clear what the desired goals are so everyone is on board.”

Aside from implementing suitable solutions, Morgan also highlighted the importance of collaboration, measuring the right metrics, leading by example and listening to the voice of the organization, among others.  Morgan explained the challenges in applying them and practical ways to overcome them. 

“Collaboration should never be seen as an additional task or requirement for employees,” Morgan wrote. “Instead collaboration should fit naturally into their flow of work. For example, with my virtual team of ten employees turning on Skype every morning and looking at what’s going in Asana is how we all start our day, it’s not an afterthought or something additional we do … it’s how we get things done.”

He reiterated that collaboration is an ongoing initiative and goes beyond simply rolling out initial guidelines, thinking that it will stand the test of time. It’s all about adjusting and being agile to changes. 

“It’s important to remember that collaboration is perpetual,” Morgan wrote. “It’s a never ending evolution as new tools and strategies for the workplace continue to emerge. This means that it’s important for your organization to be able to adapt and evolve as things change. Keep a pulse on what’s going on in the industry and inside of your organization. This will allow you to innovate and anticipate. So many organizations were caught off guard by this pandemic because they had neither the tools, the training, the leadership, or the guidelines to help make flexible work successful.”

Clear course of action is vital

The pandemic has disrupted global workforces. Management consultancy Gallup has seen massive changes in different aspects of work and employee life, and they are seeing record levels of stress and worry among the U.S. workforce. So how are employers faring in terms of their response?

Leaders need to have a clear course of action and communicate it clearly to their employees. A survey from Gallup shows that 52 percent of employees strongly agree that their employer fared well in terms of sharing information to them about the next steps. 

Technology is key to implementing action plans

Having a strategy is just half of the battle. The other half is implementing it. Technology plays a crucial role in that.

A workforce management platform is helpful in this regard as it can help you operate efficiently beyond borders, staying on top of your operations, and improving overall communication with staff. It can help you automate and customize certain processes and adjust quickly to market changes. 

There’s a lot of factors at play when managing a workforce, especially so at a time like this. It’s vital to have the right solutions in place that will help you focus on enriching your people and equipping them to do their best even in this era of remote work and beyond. 

Jana Reserva is a content manager for Workforce.com.

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