Business Unusual: Managing A Remote Workforce In The New Normal

Behind the Scenes|by Francois Filamor

As a Millennial and Gen-Z workforce in Manila, we’re no strangers to working and collaborating virtually. We’ve always been able to start ideas from a single Slack message, and mount pitches faster than one can say ping. But with COVID-19 forcing our entire office to stay and work from home, in comes the realization that managing a fully remote workforce is more challenging than anyone can ever anticipate.

For us, it certainly wasn’t ‘Business As Usual’. Not only did we initially face challenges in ensuring that productivity and the quality of work remain the same, there was also the sudden loss of personal interactions among the team. We’re the sort who love to hang out with one another—throw crazy parties, go on team lunches, and spend after hours playing board games and just chilling. This pandemic has forced us to stay home in isolation, so having that routine and interaction is something that we terribly miss.

But just like our spirits, we’re bouncing back.

The past three months have been a learning experience for all of us. Slowly but surely, we’re building a sustainable and sufficient at-home working environment that works for every member of the team. And here’s what I learned from it:

When in doubt, over-communicate.
When in doubt, over-communicate. Picture: Bonsey Jaden, 2020.

Set policies and guidelines that benefit the company and the people you’re working with. It is easy to send out detailed rules adapting to the new normal, but the more arduous task is ensuring that it is understood. So open up your communication lines for any questions, clarifications, or concerns! Doing so will ensure you’re not strangled by red tape—that’s a disaster!

Track time and output properly.
Track time and output properly. Picture: Bonsey Jaden, 2020.

A work from home setup can mess up with the routines of your team members, so it is necessary to put policies in place and have them track their time and output accordingly. Imposing a routine is something that literally benefits everyone!

Adjust when necessary.
Adjust when necessary. Picture: Bonsey Jaden, 2020.

If there’s anything that this pandemic has taught us, it is to adjust whenever necessary. We weren’t the most prepared with having to work from home, but we made it work. The fault of many is stopping at a problem’s infancy, but pushing a solution always, always works.

Listen
Listen. Picture: Bonsey Jaden, 2020.

Your team has ideas that you may not have thought of, so listen. If it isn’t too out of this world, then give it a shot. The key here is being open to your team that you are trying many of these things out first before formalizing it as a policy. The more you test, the easier it will be to optimize your process.

Stay connected. Yes, video calls can work!
Stay connected. Yes, video calls can work! : Bonsey Jaden, 2020.

There is a lot of debate on whether video calls are beneficial or not. I personally prefer keeping it off during internal updates. However, it has proven effective for us to catch up with the team. We have a weekly themed call wherein people dress up using whatever they find in their homes, and it has helped in keeping us connected. 

Managing your workforce remotely is never going to be easy. Not only do you have to keep track of your team’s productivity and efficiency, but you also have to take their mental health and wellness into consideration during these challenging times. The most important thing that I’ve learned these past three months is that all of these challenges can be managed better as long as you’re willing to open your lines of communication—be transparent with your team, never hesitate to ask them how they’re doing, and always be ready to listen.

Maintaining that personal connection—even virtually, can really help you establish a sense of normalcy even if it’s business unusual.

 

    Francois is an award-winning marketer who has worked on every aspect of Bonsey Jaden’s business since it started. He’s currently the General Manager of Bonsey Jaden Philippines, and puts his experience in the US and Asia to good use as he pushes his team to produce world-class work consistently. Want to see the exemplary talent of the Philippine team - email him at manila@bonseyjaden.com

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