Maintaining Normalcy for a Virtual Workforce
April 24, 2020
WFH – How to Keep Things Normal with a Virtual Workforce
As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the world, financial institutions are—and have been—transitioning employees to a virtual workforce.
For thousands, this transition will be the first time working from home (WFH). Working remotely creates unique challenges for managers to maintain employee engagement, business activities and productivity. What typically occurred in the office in-person, still needs to occur but must now be done virtually, even as employees balance other household pressures and distractions related to spouses, children who are home due to school closures, and even relatives and friends who need care.
See how standard daily activities in most operations departments can be modified for a WFH environment. (Click the “WFH” image or view information below.) We’ve seen these best practices implemented with minimal effort. We hope this proves helpful as we all continue to grapple with change and work collaboratively to come up with workable solutions for a virtual workforce.
Daily Team Meetings
Daily and weekly team meetings should continue as scheduled using available video or phone conference solutions.
- Have a quick 5-minute meeting at the beginning of the day/schedule to get employees comfortable with starting the day remotely.
- Back and forth dialogue and the ability to ask questions will be difficult through remote solutions, so plan to take questions in advance or leverage IM for people to ask questions virtually.
- Move all meetings to video where possible. This may be uncomfortable at first but will go a long way to making employees feel connected to their peers.
Performance & Productivity Management
Managers will need to be quick to recognize performance impacts and other best practices.
- Continue to produce and distribute reports as scheduled via email.
- Maintain regular conversations with employees related to performance and productivity through phone calls and IM discussions, ensuring these are supportive and acknowledge/address concerns/challenges they may be facing remotely.
- Set a goal for achieving full productivity (e.g. 2 weeks) and adjust this as issues arise that weren’t planned.
- Set realistic expectations (e.g. doesn’t make sense to strive for 30 second ASAs if the ASAs are running at 300+).
Managers should plan to over-communicate break and lunch schedules.
- Set breaks and lunches as normal and then adjust as allowed for employees who may need or prefer changes, (e.g. some may find it easier in the new environment to have one 30-min break rather than two 15-min breaks).
- Send break and lunch schedules to employees via email daily and reminders as appropriate.
Managers will still need to be available for questions and customer requests – expect an increase in both.
- Leverage any instant messaging solutions available so employees can address customer items immediately.
- Make calendars available to direct reports so they know schedule availability.
- Issue cell phones to managers so employees are able to send text messages for critical needs.
Email / IM Management
All employees should expect an increase in email and IM traffic as in-person conversations are no longer an option.
- Use available inbox rules to prioritize emails by filtering those from employees to a unique folder.
- Leverage IM for all discussions regarding immediate attention and filter all other discussion through email.
- Establish rules for the email subject lines to help with prioritization. Use words such as “customer” or “immediate response needed” as well as “not critical” when responses can wait.
- Creating a running list of open questions not resolved within 24 hours to update the team during daily meetings.
Being available for 1:1 meetings will be more important as employees transition to remote work and need help adjusting.
- Schedule meetings weekly (at a minimum). Plan them in advance, not to exceed 10-minutes, and do not cancel. The benefit will far outweigh any impact to service levels one employee could have.
- Keep contact information handy for the Employee Assistance Program through HR or company benefits, if the program exists. This can assist your virtual workforce with personal challenges.
Team morale and motivation will need to be an even greater focus to keep employees focused and energized.
- Constantly recognize great work through team emails and during team meetings for all to hear.
- Adapt recognition to the current environment by recognizing any improvements even if they are still short of goal.
Cross Team Engagement
Team camaraderie is critical. Ensure that employees don’t feel isolated by creating a virtual team interaction and a sense of belonging.
- Encourage team members to reach out to one another.
- Create a “team chat” area so that team members can share best practices and challenges.
Manage Workforce Change with Confidence During COVID-19
Bridgeforce can help your organization leverage technology and best practices for virtual workforce management to ensure that your organization meets the challenges
of COVID-19 in ways that are compassionate, realistic and based on our 20 years of experience helping financial companies grow and adapt through change. Contact us to get started today.