In the last few months, we have been faced with the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted human activities and questioned societal norms. As a measure to reduce the spread of the virus, world leaders had to make difficult decisions with many imposing quarantines or requiring nonessential workers to stay home. Businesses had to reinvent presence, productivity and collaboration, leveraging technology to adapt to the challenging disruptions.
At the beginning of the disruption, one major question on the minds of CEOs, HR Leaders, and managers was this; how do we foster engagement and productivity in the daily lives of our employees? How do we help our people stay focused and mentally healthy in the face of such significant change?
Speed and collaboration; a perfect mix for adapting to change.
For us at Softcom, solving the above questions has been a collaborative effort across the organisation. First, we had to plan our response to COVID-19, part of which was to review our remote work policy, (if you haven’t developed one or need to confirm if yours is robust, you can use ours here). The next thing we did after this was to communicate a full shutdown of the offices in Lagos and Abuja. We then rolled out a financial palliative to augment data and cost of living and partnered with Spar to gift all employees essentials for this period.
The next step for us was to train managers on accepting the realities of working from home and how to be supportive of their teams. The guiding principles for this training were trust and empathy; trust that your team cares about the organisation, their work, and want to deliver on the desired outcome, and empathy to support them through these unprecedented times. They were also encouraged to regularly check up on their team members, especially where the productivity of a team member becomes a concern, escalating to their People Partner where necessary.
One thing that helped was the technology tools at our disposal which we leveraged to full potential. While we already relied on great tools like G-Suite, Slack, JIRA, Microsoft Projects, we expanded the collection to include 7Geese and Bamboo HR. These tools have been instrumental in maintaining productivity, efficiency, and communication since the restrictions began.
Organise complexities, simplify processes.
After managers were fully aware of their role in the big picture, we took the opportunity the restriction period presented to self-reflect as an organisation. We reviewed our business strategy to ensure our goals for inclusion and growth for people and businesses were on the right track and achievable. This action helped us focus on what objectives and results Softcomers had to focus on in the short term. We also quickly concluded on our purpose mapping project which connects every Softcomers to a particular product(s) creating meaning to their jobs at Softcom & Eyowo. The result – a reduction in employees’ objectives and key results without sacrificing outcomes.
We then began to pay attention to learning requirements and career development for Softcomers as it is a perfect time for organizations to upskill and reskill their workforce.
We encouraged managers to have 1:1 career development conversation to determine areas actively:
- The areas of strength and improvements for Softcomers, identifying their skills and competencies and where these skills, if not relevant to their current function could be fully utilised in other areas within the business.
- Skill gaps and deliberately assign targeted training to plug these gaps.
What these activities did was give clarity and focus on the work being done and its expected outcome. If Softcomers could identify the objectives they needed to achieve per quarter and had the necessary learning and resources, productivity was sure to increase.
We carried out an internal survey to have an understanding of the impact of the new processes and methods and the graphic below shows the results:
The overriding sentiment from the survey is that Softcomers are confident in the way the pandemic crisis was handled.
Mental well-being - a necessity.
Homelife during a lockdown is much harder than usual. Many workers who live alone are experiencing enforced isolation and emotional stress. We must state here that organisations have to be intentional about creating a telecommuting environment that promotes mental, physical, and emotional well-being as its benefits on boosting employee productivity are far-reaching.
In our approach to achieving this, we partnered with our in-house counsellor and organised online group therapy sessions for all employees. Although these sessions were optional, the overwhelming responses to invites and feedback from the sessions served to validate the need for it.
We also introduced virtual fitness sessions that are held online every week, and we will continue to add new measures to support our employees through the mental pressures this period presents.
The coronavirus crisis is forcing organizations in Nigeria to reconsider nearly every aspect of office life. Some practices have now been revealed as unproductive, and are happily discarded; while others seem to be spot-on and are being improved on. For workers wondering right now if they’re ever going back to the way work has been, the most honest answer to this is: even if we do, the office might never be the same.
For us, as an organisation, we’ve seen unprecedented growth in digital adaptation, and we will continue to iterate towards the best.
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