Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, teleworking has been installed as an effective form of work continuity for millions of people in practically all activities.
Once the countries are finding answers to the epidemiological situation, they begin to raise the need for the social and to retake the face-to-face labor ties. Undoubtedly, this has been one of the greatest blows for all people, since the emotion, the feeling and the complementarity with other beings partially disappeared when we transformed into the virtual.
The same goes for children and adolescents deprived of schooling, and young people who had to leave their groups of belonging aside for a long time, to go on to contact each other almost exclusively through the Internet.
To return or not to return?
The discussion in the world today is not about coming back or not coming back; but about how, when and under what conditions to return, or to take a next step in the corporate work culture that helps to reconnect those cultural traits that, in many cases, have been lost and must be reconstituted.
The first two links to work on are security and trust.
Security encompasses everything related to protocols and the greatest care of people at all times; either when they are working from home, in transit to or within the company. It is safety and hygiene specialists and governments who need to establish the regulations that frame the procedures to guarantee it.
Instead, trust requires other components, since it is something that is built based on the personal history of the relationship between each person and the organization to which they belong. It occurs when a series of formal and unspoken contracts are constantly fulfilled and demonstrated over long periods: none of us trust immediately, it takes time; it is a progressive construction.
In addition, trust acquires different dimensions for each person, and is based on concrete facts with the company, and, also, with colleagues and, above all, with the direct report, bosses or leaders, who need to strengthen ties much more. And, of course, I get (self-confidence, the ability to trust your skills and abilities).
It is already known that trust takes many years to build, and can be destroyed in a second, as can reputation.
Imagine that you are in a circus and they present the number of the trapeze artists. There is an athlete who throws himself, and another person, the catcher, the one who catches. They need to fully trust, with surgical precision.
The same thing happens in companies: without well-oiled trust frameworks and commitment from both parties, it is difficult to think of a return to the office.
There are several international reports where workers claim that in certain cases they are feeling compelled to sacrifice personal safety in the context of COVID-19, in order not to lose their jobs. This has health consequences, such as exhaustion, anxiety, sustained stress that can lead to burnout; and, at the same time, family and work risks. A generalized imbalance of mental health, perhaps the least addressed by governments in terms of solutions and palliative.
From the formal, there are several scenarios that are handled, for example, moving to the permanent telework format, to the hybrid of some face-to-face days and others at a distance; Or, gather small teams by areas of proximity to their homes; or completely decentralize operations whenever the activity allows it.
Some countries have already enacted laws on teleworking, the first outlines of a trend that seems to be asserting itself over the months, and which, surely, will have to be periodically reviewed to adapt to technological and operational innovation.
Image: Malte Helmhold via Unsplash .
5 tips to build trust
To help build security and trust in organizations, here are five steps with several practical tools:
1. Ensure environmental conditions
Each company and the workers themselves need to determine together the safety and hygiene measures to follow and guarantee, for the correct compliance with the protocols. The recommendation is to create a permanent working table dedicated to collecting the concerns of the sector, and that it is not only the area of human resources or talent management that takes responsibility. Involving the staff will be the most appropriate to create a synergy that allows to contain, adapt, provide security, correct deviations and act by mutual agreement, even when it is decided to work remotely.
2. Free from anxiety and fear
Faced with the uncertainty of moments like this, many managers transfer their own fears to the team. All they do is lower performance levels and significantly increase anxiety and fears. To elaborate these aspects, it is necessary to provide them with coaching, psychological support, team coaching work and spaces for reflection, in addition to applying and teaching about emotional intelligence to the entire staff, on a permanent basis.
3. Learn to communicate
As there is an abundance of messages going around, each company through its areas and leaders needs to establish internal and external communication protocols, totally clear, concise and without room for double interpretations.
The suggestion is to open up to divergent opinions, and integrate them into everyday life with concrete and clear actions. Also, greater confidence is achieved by being transparent about the measures that are being taken, even those that are unfriendly for the workers; by reporting progress weekly and forecasting so people don’t feel unnecessary uncertainty about the improvisation tendency seen in many companies.
At the same time, it is necessary to assess the needs of employees through daily conversations, evaluations, surveys, feedback and feedforward – opportunities for improvement focused exclusively on the future, not reviewing what has already happened. With these data, the general action plan of the company and by areas will be prepared, tending to function in the most organic way possible even in the midst of the challenges that arise.
4. Talk about emotions and feelings
Human attention: it is allowed to feel.
If in real life many people find it difficult to put what they feel into words, I have seen this happen much more at work. It seems that there are still company cultures that insist on wanting to cover what they feel, instead of fostering direct, honest and deep conversations.
Each leader will be responsible for dedicating time from their agenda to, also, approach to speak with the people of their team; and then, in a board of directors, determine lines of action based on what is revealed.
5. Encourage self-leadership and empowerment
Another very effective way to reinforce trust is to let people express themselves, delegate and expand the spaces for decision-making and responsibility.
To achieve this, it is recommended that each person be trained in their self-leadership, which is born from self-knowledge and how they put it at the service of their role in the company. What if instead of having employees fulfilling orders, an organization started to have micro-entrepreneurs from each area, at the service of the greater result that is sought?
As a consequence, greater empowerment will be obtained, the improvement of intrinsic motivation, and, thus, will increase individual involvement and performance and in their relationship with the teams.
For these five points to be effective, it is necessary to guarantee work continuity in clear and equitable conditions, adequate equipment, and sign a psychological contract that encompasses these initiatives, along with those already in force by the company. The psychological is everything that both parties have committed to and that is not in writing: it is felt and lived in the culture of every day. It is understood -and it must be made explicit- that, if necessary, it is necessary to shuffle and give again to the changing contexts. No company was unscathed from the pandemic, nor will it: it will have been modified in some way.
What is certain: these transformations typical of the return to the office in the pandemic occur progressively; they will be observed over the months, as long as a clear, effective and people-focused policy is maintained. And then it will be the moment when the business result will come as a consequence.