Reinventing people management to manage remote working well

Make sure everything works for the good of the business and its employees, says Ian.

By Ian McAlister, general manager at CRS Technologies.

The rate at which remote working policies and procedures have had to be adopted has caught many organisations off guard.

Ian McAlister believes that the resultant disruption to traditional working methods is not necessarily a bad thing. This is especially the case if it brings about a reinvention of people management and appraising the effectiveness of employees.

“Despite the pressure to embrace a distributed working environment, companies still need to apply solid change management strategies to facilitate as smooth a transition as possible. In our experience, doing so with easily digestible chunks of new innovations can go a long way towards ensuring minimal disruption for employees and managers alike,” he says.

This highlights how human resource processes within the organisation must involve everyone. It is therefore the responsibility of senior managers to explain the reasons for change to employees, as well as demonstrate why this will be good for the business in the long term.

According to Ian, obtaining buy-in from employees will ensure that the transition to a remote working environment, driven by cloud-based solutions, is more readily accepted. “It is about making sure everything works for the good of the business and its employees. After all, strip away the technology, processes, and procedures, and all the company has is its people.”

He says that even though traditionalists will be more risk-averse to fully adopting a remote work culture, a company has the responsibility to slowly build their comfort levels unless they want them to simply fall back to the old way of working.

Changing boundaries
“To do this effectively means that the organisation must be aware of the psychological impact that remote working can have on an employee. Suddenly there are no boundaries between work and personal life.

“In the past, commuting to the office provided a useful and much-needed buffer to get thoughts ready for the day ahead. The same applied on the way back home – a person could disengage and start thinking about family. Remote working all but eliminates this. The risk is burning out employees who feel that they cannot afford to take time off and be with their family while at home.”

He shares that companies must ensure that their remote workers establish clear boundaries between their work and personal roles and responsibilities. The easiest way to do this is by having an assigned workspace at home and allocating time slots to be focused on business. Outside of these hours, the person must switch off their office computer and spend time with loved ones.

Stress management
“Furthermore, addressing isolation and stress should also be built into change management processes as companies embrace the remote work environment. For example, suggesting employees take small breaks throughout the day to help them to decompress, walk outside for fresh air, and even do a little exercise, can do them the world of good.”

Ian adds that CRS regularly checks in with its employees to find out how they are doing and whether they are managing the stress resulting from lockdown conditions. “Even something as straightforward as giving employees a platform to vent frustrations and fears managers may not know about can dramatically improve their mental state.

“With the extension of lockdown level three regulations amidst the surge in second wave infections, people are unsure about what the rest of the year will hold. By keeping focused on employee wellbeing, companies will do well to position the business for growth once these challenges have been overcome,” Ian concludes.