Making Telework Effective

Are you making telework effective during the COVID-19 pandemic? In a recent article in Forbes, “Three Keys to Engaged, Productive Telework Teams”, author Rajshree Agarwal, a professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, explored how to get the most out of telework. This article covers some very important territory for many companies dealing with the pandemic. Here are some key points from Agarwal that can help your team get the most out of telework.

According to Agarwal, people may tend to shy away from sharing personal information and feelings while in the office. Via video conferencing, the story can be different. Employers need to keep in mind that the dynamic between you and your employees may be different when using video conferencing. This may also be the case when your employees speak with one another.

Agarwal cautions business owners from taking a “business as usual” approach to the COVID-19 situation. It can make them look both unnecessarily cold and out of touch with reality. However, it is important to not dwell on the negative aspects of the pandemic. Some sense of normalcy during the pandemic is a smart move as well.

How you use telework and video conferencing is about developing the correct balance. On one hand, you’ll want to acknowledge that the situation is serious and must be addressed. On the other hand, you don’t want to dwell on the pandemic. Not effectively handling the work at hand could undermine your business and cause other problems for both you and your employees.

It is in everyone’s best interest to be smart, safe, and acknowledge the bizarreness of the current situation, while striving to achieve business goals. “Balance” being the keyword. Agarwal states, “The combination of empathy and purpose unifies individuals, allowing team members to channel their efforts towards shared objectives and values. This is the best antidote for anxiety.”

Key Factors To Consider To Make Telework Effective

According to Agarwal, there are three keys to making telework effective. They are communication, socialization, and flexibility.

Communication: There has to be good communication. For example, people can’t simply ignore one another’s emails because they are working virtually. Real-time meetings via Zoom or Skype can eliminate some communication issues, but not all.
Socialization: Agarwal points out, “Engaged, productive teams also take time to socialize”. Working from home alters the typical modes and methods of socialization. But people can use virtual interactions to help form and develop their social networks. Socialization doesn’t have to end once telework begins. If used sensibly, socializing, and the bonds it creates between co-workers can still continue.
Flexibility: Flexibility is critical. All team members must adjust to what, for some, may be a fairly radical restructuring of their day-to-day work experience. Those who haven’t worked virtually before may find adjusting to be quite a challenge. Management should strive to be more flexible during telework caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining the same top-down approach could prove to be problematic.

Telework presents challenges. However, the challenges it represents are not insurmountable. There are benefits to teleworking. Teams can use it to generate solutions that they might not have reached in the typical work environment.

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