Regaining a Sense of Control at Work Post-COVID
Businesses were forced into remote workflows after realizing that COVID-19 would linger around. Now, it can seem like an uphill struggle to regain any sense of control in the workplace, but the right leadership approach can bring a feeling of surety and fresh confidence to employees at all levels.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first struck and the lockdowns started, businesses were forced to completely transform their workflows. Many had to adopt remote workflows and it disrupted a lot of existing processes that were difficult to change. According to Statista, only 17% of workers worked remotely for five or more days a week before the pandemic started. Post COVID-19, that’s jumped to a staggering 44%.
In the beginning, most businesses adopted temporary solutions to support remote workflows. It was believed that the pandemic would just blow over soon and that we’d be able to return to our regular workdays. Sadly, it’s been a year since the world was made aware of COVID-19 and there’s still some time before we’re able to start working in our offices again. That long year convinced many businesses to go all-in with remote working, once again transforming their workflows to support a more permanent solution to support working from home.
Now that businesses have committed to many of these permanent or semi-permanent changes to their workflow, we’re once again faced with the problem of reverting those changes and regaining a sense of control in the workplace. As workers start to return to the office, we’ll have to adopt new practices and make adjustments to our remote workflows in order to return to normality.
Leadership in a crisis
In 2018, Forbes.com posted an article titled “The Real Crisis in Leadership”. In this informative post, it was revealed that only 18% of managers demonstrate a high level of talent for managing others. That means an incredible 82% of managers were not suited for their leadership position. Gallup estimated that this huge lack of leadership could cost corporations up to $550 billion every single year.
The COVID-19 pandemic should be considered a crisis by every definition of the word. Unfortunately, most managers were unable to readjust their companies to smoothly transition into a work-from-home focus. It caused a lot of stress, reduced productivity, and it led to many workers losing their jobs. Now the same thing is likely to happen; under-qualified managers will attempt to regain a sense of control in the workplace and make things worse in the process.
Bad leaders hurt businesses
Bad leaders should always be considered a detriment to the business. Unfortunately, these effects are greatly amplified in a time of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if the virus was to completely disappear tomorrow, bad managers will still have a rough time helping a business adjust back to normality.
In the same Forbes.com article, data shows that 50% of employees leave their jobs at some point because their leaders are bad–and this was before COVID-19. Nowadays, the actions of a lead leader will make things all the more difficult for a business. A lack of strong decision-making skills, poor communication, and other problems will ultimately lead to an unorganized business that just isn’t ready to return to its regular workplace.
Reaching for control
A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that around 40% of people felt that the pandemic had negatively affected their mental health. It caused a lot of undue stress, it may have triggered anxiety in people, and it could have even led to panic attacks. When combined with poor leadership from bad managers, it’s clear that businesses will have to deal with several big issues at once before they can regain a sense of control of their business.
By focusing on the wellbeing and health of your staff, you can drastically improve their ability to adjust back into the workplace while also minimizing potentially stressful situations. There are several ways to do this, including:
- Offer mental and physical health assistance to employees that need it.
- Encourage your team to communicate openly.
- Outline your priorities and what you’ll be focusing on in order to return to normality.
- Allow employees to stick with their flexible work schedule until they want to return.
- Minimize the number of changes you make whenever possible.
- Recognize that working from home can still be viable, so don’t seek to completely reverse the changes you’ve made that enable working from home.
- Reassure your staff to create a stronger sense of workplace certainty.
Everyone has different ideas of what a post-pandemic office could look like. It’s generally expected that workers would prefer to stay at home because it means less commuting and more convenience. However, a study by Randstad Workmonitor in December 2020 showed that this might not be the case. Around 35% of workers would prefer work to be split between both the office and their home, indicating that we’ll likely need to continue managing the remote while making adjustments to your office workflow in order to create a collaborative work environment.
With multiple different workflow styles to manage, it’s important that we start to create a list of priorities to focus on first. After all, your business only has so many staff members and so much capital. Continuing to develop your remote workflow processes is certainly going to be helpful, but you also need to focus on helping employees return to the office while maintaining optimal productivity levels.
Upskill your leaders
One of the simplest approaches to regaining control of any workplace is to bring in some kind of support initiative for your leadership teams. Even remote solutions such as a coaching app can be a massive help because they are comparatively low-cost to implement but allow your leaders take an objective look at how the business is functioning. This allows them to critique your approach to challenges while also giving you advice on how to correctly manage your team during these difficult and uncertain times. Specialist leadership coaches will analyze your business and give you the advice you need to regain a sense of control in your workplace in a post COVID world, which in turn will lead to happier staff and a faster, smoother recovery for the wider business.