The sudden move to home lockdown and the drastic change in our professional and personal life brought with them many challenges and questions. Those challenges and questions were heavily discussed in all communication channels, social media networks and blogs. But at the same time, the return for work and the new routine in post lockdown reality is also incredibly challenging. The day to day changed, teams splits will be necessary, cutback are expected in many companies, people are concerned about their health safety (and rightfully so), and still very high uncertainty.
A big part of these challenges will be in managers responsibility as far as it goes to managing the new reality, so it is important to have awareness and a good strategy for that.
Some of the challenges to prepare for:
- Low morale – the cut-offs as well as the people that were laid off as well as project cancellations or delays, impact the morale. Even people that came back from the isolation with energy, will feel bad when they see the impact on their group. What can we do? the message cannot be only that targets should still be met regardless of the shortage of manpower. Talk to people openly and honestly, be sensitive with messages, be transparent about decisions and decision factors, and mainly – create the vision for the new future.
- Health concerns – People will come back with many concerns about social distance at work, joint working areas, meeting rooms, shared equipment, etc. These concerns should be properly addressed. Health should be the first factor in every decision, and managers should be incredibly open for these concerns and involve HR in every issue.
- Absence – Unfortunately although we are heading back to work the virus is still active and people will still have to go to self-isolation when exposed to an infected person or were infected themselves. On one hand more absence should be assumed in planning, and on the other hand all steps should be taken to reduce risks – splitting teams between locations, etc.
- Uncertainty – At least for the near period and until a vaccine is widely available, the uncertainty in the business and organizational world remains high. This is a new type of uncertainty as it is questioning the fundamental aspects of our day to day therefor it is a significant challenge for managers. The best way to manage it is by short term and short cycles of panning, based on reasonable assumptions, and being as agile as possible.
- Cost challenges – it is clear that everything that was mentioned up until this point impacts cost, in addition to the world economic situation it leads companies to significant cost challenge, especially in the business areas that were directly impacted, but not only. We will be asked to do more with less, and just when we thought we maximized this approach, we will be asked for more. We will have to take a step forward in being creative and find ways to deliver more value with less effort.
- Flights – Many managers I know were happy at first about not flying as much, and even found it effective, but continuing with time it gets more challenging and the impact is growing. Until flights can resumes managers have to continue and maximize the technological solutions for communication for formal as well as non-formal communications for loner time. This should be accounted for and mitigated so the impact decreases.
- Working remotely for long term – so yes, for a short period it worked well for all, but when looking at a longer period, it is important to strength the framework for remote work. Effective work processes for remote work are such that combine different types of communication in the right amount – verbal communication, tools, written communication, formal communication and non-formal communication. It is also important to better define the work processes and create clarity and alignment.
To sum, we are entering the second phase of handling and managing coronavirus crisis, a phase in which we will experience a new reality and will have to learn how to manage it. The challenges are many and significant, if not in their essence then in their intensity. This is the time to start thinking and preparing your strategy to manage this new routine. It is not the government anymore. Now it is you, facing your teams, facing your tasks and commitments.
It is challenging, but possible.
After all, we thrived through phase 1,
we will thrive through this phase as well.