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COVID-19; Supporting Staff and Sustaining Productivity in a Remote World

Updated on May 26, 2020
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Jamie Catlow is an experienced Real Estate Asset Management Professional for a global built environment consultancy


There is no hiding that the emergent crisis has brought with it a massive cultural shift. Our homes, previously our sanctuaries, are becoming our places of work, whilst traditional offices lie empty. We are physically disconnected from our colleagues and clients, and ultimately surrounded by uncertainty.

In these trying times it is vital that we take action to increase how we support staff to ensure they remain productive and, most importantly, happy in the long term; the following sections outline steps you could take in support of this:

Identify the new normal

As people are catapulted from a conventional way of working with well-established rules and regulations into completely new digital and remote territory, with no tried and tested handbook, what ‘flexible’ working really means needs to be quickly spelt out. You should:

  • Use leadership to frame ‘what good looks like’. This can be achieved through swift communications showing what a day in the life looks like for you leadership team; this is a quick and effective way of positively reinforcing behaviours, whilst acknowledging that that the new status quo is vastly different to how we were operating just a month ago.
  • Develop a ways of working manual for staff. This will allow you to begin identifying and documenting what your flexible working policy should be and how it will be managed in the future. The future element is key – outlining continuity of this new normal will reduce anxiety regarding an impending, rapid return to a traditional approach.

Adjust your management approach

Presence and visibility are no longer valid performance checkpoints; technical outputs, behavioural based competencies and data intelligence are now key. Capturing information on this is vital. You should:

  • Revisit your KPIs. We must adapt quickly to the new parameters we are working in, where human factors are becoming increasingly important in establishing criterion.
  • Revisit your governance processes, systems and tools. These act as facilitators to tracking performance and utilisation, and ultimately aid comprehensive resource planning.

Keep in regular contact

Mental health is at the forefront of all of our minds so we must each play our part in supporting one another through this unsettling time. Keep in regular contact with your clients and colleagues alike, picking up the phone, and where ever possible take it one step further and have a video call (face to face interaction is something particularly absent at this time).

At an organisational level, communication and engagement planning will be essential in reaching your target audiences. You should:

  • Business wide sharing of local initiatives. Any innovative steps being taken by teams to increase engagement should be shared amongst the wider business – share the knowledge!
  • Mental health moments. Regular ‘mental health moments’ should be shared with thought provoking content that encourages staff to consider their personal wellbeing.
  • Regular communications. When it comes to communications at this time of separation less is not more. Informal, regular, communications between small groups or teams will help staff foster a ‘we’re all in this together’ culture which will aid bonding and camaraderie.

Let me know in the comments what your strategies are for supporting staff to stay happy and productive in the current environment

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Jamie Catlow


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