Managing Remote Work in the Age of a Pandemic and People Data

Written by Staff

March 25, 2020

Managing remote work at the comfort of your home

You've been probably managing remote work for years now. At first, it seemed like a short-term challenge, but now remote work is the new normal. Leading a distributed team during a pandemic brings a whole new set of challenges.

You may be asking: how do you keep people engaged and motivated when you can't see them in person? How do you build trust and connection across the miles? The good news is with the right strategies and tools, you can be an effective remote leader.


Embracing the new normal in managing remote work

For many of us managing remote work, it isn't business as usual because we have a new work environment. My son is a constant reminder that there is something very different going on. He loves to come into my office when I am working, writing or on conference calls and telling me something "VERY IMPORTANT!" which usually relates to the TV remote.

What makes this world different now than February 2020, is that many of us are working from home in a state of panic, chaos and uncertainty. No one knows when and how this pandemic will end. Moreover, no one knows when the curve is flattened, or the virus runs its course. The questions about how this affects our families, the community around us and our jobs/places of work keeps many awake at night. So, where do we go to find answers?


Using the right tools and strategies to be an effective remote leader

We can go to many sites like the CDC, our federal, state or local governments for information, but where can we go to get answers about what is happening at work? Let's go to our greatest data sources… ERP, HRMS, Recruiting, Time and Attendance/Workforce Management, and Benefits systems. The data in these systems are a treasure trove of insight based on the trends pre, during and post virus. But, that is only true if we are sticking to the rules and processes that were established pre-virus.

Yes, it shouldn't be top of mind, but are people logging time? Are workers off, furloughed, working from home, or laid off? Do our systems even have the right "status" for what people are going through now? If not, we may not be able to get a true picture of this period. So, maybe we need to add new action/action reason codes, new data structures, new or updated instructions, or just a friendly reminder.


Cooperation in making our systems work

Let's help those people who own their data to help us, by encouraging them to maintain it. Workers still employed, complete their timesheets. Those process owners that recruit, provide benefits, hire, fire, give increases, bonuses and approve workflows… must keep all of these processes moving forward. Yes, keep processes moving forward so that we can measure the true business impact to workforce management, payrolls, benefits and ongoing operations.

Someday, we will look back at this time and take a true introspective look at how it happened. How the virus spread. How we reacted. How it impacted our kids, our parents, our partners, our lives, and our jobs. But for now, we need to keep completing the processes that make our systems work. The result will be a full and complete picture of the pandemic's impact.

For now, schools and businesses are closed or closing. Business operations are slowing down and we can expect to work from home for at least the next few weeks. In the meantime, my son and dog have interrupted me writing this at least 5 times. Hopefully, it still makes sense. ?

Stay safe all… take care and we will get through this.

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