QUESTION: Due to the pandemic and concerns for employee safety, I had to close my office and request the staff to work from home. I worry about loss of control. Can you suggest ways to keep my people focused and motivated?
ANSWER: Many businesses both large and small are dealing with stay-at-home orders and safety concerns.
There are both pros and cons for working at home.
Some of the pros include:
- Eliminating the daily commute, which saves time and money.
- Fewer distractions from coworkers and customers, assuming you do not have children underfoot.
- Reducing stress when you can more easily take a break when things get crazy.
- More flexibility in how you structure your work day.
- Finding a better balance between work and home life.
Conversely, the cons might include:
- Finding the self-discipline to focus and carve out the time necessary to get the job done.
- Loneliness can result from not having physical contact with coworkers and customers.
- Relationships and learning experiences can suffer as a result of the lack of physical contact with others.
Many of the cons can be mitigated if you take advantage of the virtual tools available today, such as with Zoom, the online videoconferencing service that enables you to talk to and see colleagues and customers in real time.
Owners and managers of businesses can conduct virtual Zoom staff meetings to motivate and discuss various agenda items. It also allows employees to see, hear and share ideas and experiences.
A home office does not work for everyone. It probably works best for people in the service industries like, insurance, legal and accounting, to name a few.
Retailers, restaurants, gyms, nail and hair salons need to think of ways to reinvent themselves as they come to grips with the various restrictions imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local authorities.
As the owner of a business, you should know your employees well enough to assess their strengths and weaknesses.
As the saying goes, “This too shall pass.”
But until it does, business owners, managers and employees need to prepare and deal with the constraints.
Gray Poehler is a volunteer with the Richmond Chapter of SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business. To ask a question or request free and confidential business counseling, go to Richmond.score.org/mentors. Learn more about SCORE’s workshops on the website or by calling (804) 350-3569.