The outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus has forced us to rethink the way we work and run our business, in a brutal way. Working from home has brought many disruptive changes to the way we work: changes in tools, routines, managing stress levels, managing remote teams, etc.. This transition has caught many businesses off guard and it isn’t an easy one! In this article I’ll provide you with some change management learnings and tips & tricks on how you can help prepare your team to work from home in an efficient and professional manner.
In response to health measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak, many offices worldwide have closed. These companies are asking their employees to work from home as much as possible to contain the spread of the virus and keep the projects going.
Change is always difficult, and going to full time teleworking is for most employees a major change that they will have to deal with for an uncertain period of time.
Here are a few change management tips & tricks you can consider and apply to help your workforce deal with all this change.
Consider the impact
Before you head into any kind of preparation and planning, first consider the impact that this change will have on your team. What’s actually going to change? Think about the below questions:
- Does the transition have an impact on how the team is organised?
- Does your organisation have the tools in place to support such a transition? What about computers – does everyone have a secure laptop they can use from home?
- Do all your employees know how to work with the online version of the tools?
- Does this transition influence your processes in any way?
- Will this transition have an impact on the behaviour of your team or individuals in your team?
When you take the time to analyse the impact, it enables you to really understand the people’s side of change. If you don’t have all the information yourself, do consider sending out a quick survey to the key people in your organisation who have the information you need.
Your findings will be crucial in implementing the change management in this transition process.
Put your change management plan in place
There are several change management models out there. The one I would encourage you to implement in this case is Prosci’s ADKAR model, as it’s easy to put in place in a short amount of time.
ADKAR is an acronym for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. With our example of moving into a working from home routine due to the Coronavirus, let’s go through all of the steps.
I’ll add an additional complexity to the example where a data migration will need to take place from a server-based environment to a cloud-based solution such as Google Drive. The implementation of Google’s video conferencing tool, Hangouts Meet, will also be in scope.
Senior management will have a huge impact in the beginning communicating to their staff the WHY? People respond better to the WHAT is changing when they know and understand the WHY. So take the time to clarify the reasons behind your decision-making. It might also be interesting to communicate what the consequences would be if the change isn’t implemented.
Awareness is created through town-halls, team meetings, emails, videos posted on the intranet etc. It’s important however that the message is given by senior management to stress the importance of the decision in place.
In our example:
The decision to work from home was taken based on government requirements due to the spread of Coronavirus. If we don’t act now, we could risk contaminating the colleagues and jeopardising the projects and business in case of a high level of sick leaves.
Due to this, the company will transition from a server-based solution to using Google Drive to save all documentations online and in a secure environment and video conferencing will be done via Hangouts Meet.
Once your teams understand why the decisions of the transition have been made, teams need to be motivated. Explaining the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) is the key element of this section. Take the time to explain the added value on an individual level but also on an organisational level.
Desire isn’t created through emails. Desire is created by managers stepping in and communicating directly with their teams in 1-2-1 or team meetings. It’s capital that this section isn’t done through a cold messaging method.
In our example
Managers will explain to their teams that as they’re working from home they are keeping them, their colleagues and their families safe from contamination. Working from home will also enable them to manage their schedules accordingly, improve work-life balance and reduce stress levels as commuting to work won’t be required.
Working with Google Drive will take some time, but it enables you to have access to your data from anywhere, anytime and any device. Hangouts Meet doesn’t need any installation on your computer making it very easy to ignite.
This part is self explanatory. You need to ensure that your staff has the knowledge to step into the transition.
Consider providing documentation, tips and tricks, tutorials and of course training to ensure that your staff has the knowledge necessary to continue working in the changed environment.
In our example
I would consider sending out tips and tricks on how to work effectively from work. In regards to the implementation of Google Drive and Hangouts Meet I’d provide a short online training, directing the team to our youtube channel that contains short tutorials with “how tos” that will help the team get started.
Should any process be impacted by the transition, more in depth information should be provided in a timely manner to avoid any confusion and frustration.
The question you need to ask yourself in this step is: how is your team doing? Are there any gaps to be filled? What’s still lacking? Is there any additional coaching required?
Or maybe your team just needs some encouragement that they’re doing a great job with coping with the changes thrown at them?
In our example
I would put in place a community with all the middle management where they can ask their questions about how to tackle resistance and how to manage the transition in their teams. They would also have a platform to ask any questions related to the new tools put in place.
At this point senior management should provide an update of how everyone’s coping and encourage and thank everyone for their hands-on efforts in this experience. Some teams could be struggling to be productive and keep motivated with the remote working, so it might be necessary to have more frequent touch points during the week.
It’s time to ask for feedback. Do your teams need more training or more support perhaps? Should additional documentation be written? This is where you can make adjustments to your change management plan and still ensure success.
The more your staff are part of the change, the more involved they’ll feel and will help you in this process too.
In our example
I’d envision sending a feedback form to the entire organisation asking how everyone is coping with working from home, whether more information is needed on a specific new tool or maybe more training. I’d also ask for suggestions on how to make working from home more pleasant etc.
I trust this article with the different change management techniques you can apply during this crisis, has given you some food for thought. Applying them to your own change management plan will help you to guide your workforce better through these challenging times while the whole organisation is working from home. I wish you all the best in the coming weeks!
At Fourcast we guide our customers in moving to a Cloud-based environment: ideal when working from home. Companies can also count on us to implement Hangouts Meet for their staff. Find out more on how to ensure business continuity while working from home, with powerful Google tools.
If you need any help or guidance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.