Searching For New Work-From-Home Etiquette

Millions of people have been forced to work from home, companies struggle to stay connected and keep productivity up.

With millions of workers forced to work from home as a result of Covid-19, maintaining high levels of productivity and efficiency is a top priority for companies. But it could be awhile before hordes of employees and managers find a way of coping.

“Of course, and rightly so, the main focus is keeping employees safe,” says Moe Vela, chief transparency officer at TransparentBusiness. “But right next to that concern in the minds of business leaders and CEOs in the United States and around the world is: Will this shift make my company operate inefficiently, and will it ultimately cause the collapse of my business?”

TransparentBusiness offers software that allows employees to keep track of their work based on the number of keystrokes they hit on their computers and screenshots. This way, Vela says, “the employee has control and management is not blinded.” According to Vela, the software tool boosts work productivity by between 15% and 40%.

But there is much more to managing employees remotely than simple work control, as workers need to stay focused. “Your leadership needs to shine, even if many of your employees won’t see you in person for the next six, 12 or even 18 months,” David Schlesinger, a senior adviser for Consultant Collective, wrote in a recent blog post.

Schlesinger says it is important that managers stay visible and over communicate. “Particularly in times of danger or uncertainty, employees read the worst into the situation if they do not hear from their leaders.” He recommends using all possible tools, from company intranets to videoconferences.

“Get used to this—it is likely the world will not return to normal in 2020 and probably well into 2021. This crisis could be an opportunity to relaunch yourself with a new leadership style,” he adds.

As these changes are forced upon most companies and their employees, it is inevitable that it will be a steep learning curve for everyone. The situation we’re currently in brings to mind the 2017 BBC interview with Robert Kelly, a political analyst and expert on Korean relations, which went viral when his daughter opened the door of the studio during the interview, allowing her baby brother in. Their mother rushed to pull the child out of view of the cameras. At the end of the day, the show was universally considered funny and charming, and it did not damage the reputation of Kelly or the BBC. But it does highlight the need for companies and employees to be prepared—and avoid, where possible—those awkward moments.