"Never waste a good crisis".Winston Churchill
Like many other countries, Switzerland is currently in an exceptional situation due to the coronavirus. This situation is accompanied by drastic changes in the everyday life of many companies. Digital tools such as Skype, Trello or Slack are part of everyday life in many companies. But now, within a few days, in many companies they have gone from being a nice additional channel to a central component of the internal communication structure.
For employees, however, this change is not simply limited to changing the communication channel. After all, they are always "online", constantly receiving new messages and must always be available. It is difficult to concentrate on a project for two hours or to switch off after work under such circumstances. Coffee breaks and direct discussions with work colleagues are also missing.
So how can the team spirit in one's own team be maintained when everyone is working from home? And how can entrepreneurs lead their employees and support them in these changes? To this end, we have shared our experiences with friends and acquaintances in the entrepreneurial sector and have prepared a list of helpful tips and advice for you.
From turning on the coffee machine to daily team meetings - routines are a normal part of everyday work. They provide orientation in the daily routine and make it easier to slip into the right "mindset". Even when working remotely, clear procedures and structures help you to keep an overview and to plan your day sensibly.
Possibilities for this are, for example:
Daily Huddles or Daily Stand Ups, in which all team members come together for 5-10 minutes for a short update. These can easily be carried out via telephone or video conference.
Clear regulation of availability by communicating when someone is available and when you should not be disturbed. A presence tool such as a calendar, which is accessible to all employees, helps here. Even clear lockout periods, during which one is not available, can be entered here.
Chat and video tools can be used for small things and short questions or to replace meetings, workshops and group discussions. At Aizu, for example, we have had good experiences with Slack, Skype and Zoom.
Virtual coffee breaks also have their place in the home office: They serve to maintain social contacts among work colleagues and make a valuable contribution to maintaining the corporate culture.
Anyone who has never worked at home before, or at least not for a long time, will soon realize that taking the laptop home is not enough. In order to create the best conditions for a productive working environment, some principles should be observed:
Everything starts with a sensible set-up. The workplace should be ergonomically designed, i.e. it should provide optimal support for someone to carry out their professional activities. This includes the basic technical equipment (one/two screen(s), mouse, keyboard, etc.), secure access to everything needed to do the job, but also generally enough space and silence.
For those who share the home office with a partner, family or friends, it is important to be respectful to each other and to respond to the needs of the others. It may be worthwhile to move the tables around or to spread out over different rooms, as long as space is available.
Those who attend a meeting usually use the video function. Therefore, it makes sense to consider in advance what is to be seen in the camera background and position the computer accordingly. And even if no one knows who is wearing trainer pants in the meeting and who isn't: keeping track of the morning ritual and getting cleaned up every day as if you were going to work helps to maintain the daily rhythm.
The current situation in Switzerland poses major challenges not only to politics and the economy, but also to each and every one of us. Under these conditions, it is even more important for entrepreneurs to be responsive to their employees and support them in their transition to largely remote work.
The following points must be taken into account:
We are currently in a transition phase. Both employees and supervisors need time to get used to the new situation. It is therefore all the more important to remain calm and to treat each other with understanding, even when things go wrong and difficulties arise.
Employees and teams need stability. Companies must be flexible in dealing with rapidly changing circumstances. Nevertheless, the sooner new routines and structures adapted to the situation are created, the sooner the regular working day can take its course again.
Regular communication is essential. Especially in an uncertain situation, it is important to keep employees up to date, involve them in the process and give them security. It's all about providing information, but also offering orientation, showing appreciation and motivating.
The better entrepreneurs delegate their tasks, the more efficiently employees can work. But it is also important to listen, to be open to feedback and to give everyone the opportunity to contribute their ideas and experiences.
Processes should be understandable, simple and clear.
A crisis is also an opportunity. If you have time left, we recommend that you use it, whether for process optimization or product quality improvements.
We wish all entrepreneurs stamina, strong nerves and confidence!
By the way: Due to the enormous impact of the coronavirus, many online tools currently offer their services free of charge. The following articles provide an overview:
Of course the above list is not complete or final. Do you have any other helpful advice? Then please share them with us in the comments!