The isolation necessitated by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has forced many organisations to work in a whole new way - a way they may have been somewhat afraid of. For many sales managers, the most important question in this context over the past few months has been “how can we maintain the team’s performance when they’re all spread out?” Let’s have a look at the best practices which can make working at home more effective.
GOOD PRACTICE # 1: Social contract with the team
Right after the team starts working remotely, it’s worth agreeing on a social contract - the terms and conditions for working in the new reality. It’s important that all team members who will work under the new rules participate in the meeting. The rules should be related primarily to working remotely and should relate to the team’s specific situation, not to the entire working relationship. What are we talking about? For example, it may include the following:
- Online meetings - to ensure effective work and an exchange of information, we arrange what meetings, when, and with whom.
- Written action plan - all arrangements are listed in a shared document (such as an Excel spreadsheet), to which each team member has ongoing access (for example via the cloud).
- Working in groups - all tasks and arrangements that don’t require the participation of all team members should be taken care of during individual meetings. We respect each employee’s time and don’t waste it by forcing someone to participate in a conversation that doesn’t involve them.
- Savoir-vivre for online meetings - come to meetings on time, without making everyone else wait. If our behaviour (answering the phone, talking to family members off-camera) may distract the other meeting participants, we should temporarily mute the meeting and turn off the camera.
- Specific working hours - we set a certain hours, for example, if an e-mail arrives in the evening, we respond to or address it the next day, unless otherwise arranged.
- “Conscious” participation - during online meetings, don’t do other things in the background, but remain as focused as possible.
In addition to organisational issues, the social contract may also include more important issues, such as:
- A flexible approach to employees - the manager shows understanding towards their employees’ unusual working hours. Why is this rule important? It’s worth remembering that when we’re forced to work at home, we also often have to help care for children, or to share this responsibility with our partner. As a result, some employees prefer to work in the afternoon and evening, for example. As long as it doesn’t adversely affect their work (such as communicating with clients who prefer morning hours), it’s worth showing understanding towards the employee. This is perfectly described by the principle of “trust and accommodate, but don’t give up on high-quality work. Relaxing working time rules can be a strong motivating factor for employees.