As our businesses emerge from this global pandemic, it is not just how we lead our team members to maintain and grow their capabilities, our own leadership ability will also need reinforcement to ensure we underpin the values and mindset critical to achieving the kind of growth and fighting spirit we will now need to see.
In our first article of our Leadership in a Changed World series we explored how You – The Leader are vital to the success of your team and the wider business overall and how you can build resilience in yourself and your team. In this article, we focus on the team itself and how we as leaders can ensure team wellbeing and subsequently team engagement. How we can manage returning to work after furlough and identify best practices to implement while continuing to remain a connected workforce.
This is number two in a series of six articles where we explore leadership in a changed world, in this article we explore:
- Remote Working vs Productivity
- Key Challenges You Will Face
- Psychological Danger vs Psychological Safety
- Fostering Psychology Safety (FPS)
- Psychological Safety and Accountability
- Returning to Work and Building Trust
- Rebuilding Your Team - Stages of Team Development
Remote Working Vs Productivity
In recent months all businesses without exception have been affected by the rapidly changing landscape and the fluctuations in our working practices. With little to no notice we were quickly pulled from our business as usual (BAU) practices and thrust into a changed world. As we transitioned into a new way of working, office-based teams were rapidly moved into exclusively remote working set-ups. Naturally this change brought some disruption to our team performances as well as an initial but short-lived decline in engagement and overall productivity.
It was when we began to organise ourselves remotely and establish new routines, that we started to see a steady rise in our productivity rate begin to take form. Software and apps built for businesses and collaboration have been a massive contributor to our ability to pivot and establish successful remote working environments so quickly. In the first week of January business apps attracted 1.4 million new downloads across iOS and Play Store but in the first week of March downloads jumped to a staggering 6.7 million.
Zoom’s video conferencing software also saw their biggest ever day of app downloads on 8th March with 600,000 downloads compared to 343,000 the week before and just 90,000 downloads two months previously.
In some cases, there may be an engagement and productivity gap between pre-COVID performances and performances today but emerging insights into the impact of COVID-19 on productivity and wellbeing, show that 55% of workers actually believe that their colleagues are just as, if not more, productive now than before lockdown. This doesn’t mean that lockdown came without consequence, in the same survey, 38% of workers say that lockdown has had a negative impact on their wellbeing.
We have reached a critical time and as we move out of lockdown, it is time to start making changes to the way we work, the way we communicate and the way we support each other to begin shaping our near and long-term future.
As depicted in this Engagement & Productivity graphic from PwC, we can see that with a conscious focus on our key enablers we can start to make changes that will see workforce productivity rates increase alongside engagement rates through better quality collaboration and communication between team members and teams.
Key Challenges We Will Face
Remote working has created many opportunities, in many ways it has enabled us to address our less effective working practices and establish some better habits, but it has also taken away some things that we all value such as social interactions, a clear definition between time at home and time at work as well as structure and routine.
It is important that we acknowledge the challenges we are facing and set out key practices to actively resolve and overcome them. Left unresolved, these challenges can become blockers to performance and negatively affect engagement.
- Life situation challenges - School closures, health and fitness concerns, domestic disruptions and even isolation anxiety.
- Team working challenges – Prioritising work, conflict resolutions, miscommunications, changing customer demands, and even the orchestration of people.
- Physical and technical constraints - Hardware and software issues, internet bandwidth capability, an overload of collaboration tools and a lack of face- to-face contact.
- Career development opportunities – Downturn in support and peer-to-peer feedback, lack of career development opportunities or vision of possibilities, job security and economic uncertainty
Everyone’s experience can be vastly different and so we need to encourage our teams to be open and honest in the challenges they are facing so we can take active measures to find solutions.