With the coronavirus pandemic still raging in many parts of the world, companies have little choice but to embrace work-from-home arrangements for their employees. Recently, tech giant Google even announced that it is extending its remote work policy for its workforce until the middle of next year. Whether other companies will follow suit with such a schedule, those that are able to work remotely for now are compelled to do so.
It is quite fortuitous that cloud platforms and applications that cater to most business workloads are now widely available. Using these, companies are able to get their remote working setups running relatively quickly. But as with anything that involves a sudden change in routine, workforces have had to adjust drastically. At a time when organizations need to maintain productivity, it becomes imperative for leadership to not only put in place the right infrastructure to allow workers to do their work online but also inspire them to get things done during the new normal.
Organizations should be able to bank on values such as trust to help them weather such challenges. Trust enables teams to collaborate better, and the research shows this. Workers in high-trust companies report 50 percent higher productivity compared to low-trust organizations. And, considering how remote work relies on collaboration to be effective, trust has become all the more important.
Unfortunately, remote work can run counter to developing trust. As ContractZen emphasizes, daily operations require a unified structure which is typically achieved through effective digital governance. Suddenly shifting to remote work can upend such structure as members look to navigate their new ways of working from home. As such, companies’ remote work strategies must look beyond simply shifting workloads. They should also look at how companies can manage governance digitally.
Problems with remote work
Many considered these past months as the great experiment for remote work. Advocates have long challenged the concept of the traditional nine to five office schedules, claiming that it’s now possible for workers to just telecommute and achieve better work-home balance. More than a third of jobs in the US is said to be doable from home.
However, working from home during the pandemic has not exactly been smooth for many. A recent survey by the Society of Human Resource Management found that 7 in 10 employers say they struggle with remote work. Working from home requires plenty of discipline due to all the possible distractions; productivity has taken a severe hit. Some companies try to remedy this by strictly monitoring their employees’ activities through apps like Hubstaff and TSheets. Rather than focusing on results, managers have opted to micromanage and nitpick timesheets thus creating more stress and paperwork.
Then there are the issues of cybersecurity policies. Due to current circumstances, companies have allowed the use of personal devices for work. Typically, companies avoid this since unvetted devices may have security vulnerabilities that can compromise enterprise systems, applications, and data. In response, some information technology teams are enforcing policies that try to regulate employees’ personal devices and oftentimes force employees to follow strict protocols when accessing company resources.
Keeping an extra tight leash on employees is often counterproductive. Resolving issues by readily enforcing strict measures can be perceived as overkill. This can breed resentment and quickly erode trust among the members of the organization.
Using governance to inspire trust
So how can this be remedied? Cultivating corporate culture online while adjusting the ways of working is a major challenge for business leaders. Fortunately, this can be advanced through strategic governance. Here are three ways governance can inspire trust when working remotely:
Communication. Resistance to policies is often due to the lack of buy-in from employees. Often, it’s because leadership has failed to communicate the how and why of things. Leaders must also understand that remote workers can feel detached. Rather than let workers feel isolated even more, leaders can organize ways to discuss matters with everyone through virtual town halls, group discussions, and even one-on-one meetings.
Transparency. Remote work can inadvertently create silos preventing information from flowing to the right people. A way to prevent this is to promote a single source of truth. Companies can adopt shared repositories and document management systems to ensure that everyone gets to see the same version of the information.
Consensus. Decisions should also be made in a timely manner. Fortunately, these can be organized through team calendars and be made through virtual meetings. Agreements and contracts can also be formalized online using virtual data rooms and contract management platforms. This creates confidence in all parties involved that decisions and agreements are legal and enforceable.
Using governance platforms helps enable and even simplify these. Cloud-based solutions have various functionalities and offer integrated workflows that allow workers to set their agenda, schedule meetings, conduct them securely through video conferencing, record the minutes, and collaborate on documents and contracts securely.
From trust to success
Leaders must show that they are with their employees during these trying times. Coordinating and sharing information beat trying to police workers using stringent controls which create more stress. Instead, choosing collaboration and consensus building sends workers the message that they are being treated as professionals and that they are important to the business. Reestablishing trust by putting the right infrastructure, policies, and culture in place can help workers settle into their new normal. Productivity is set to follow once they acclimatize to their new ways of doing things.