How To Maintain Business Productivity During COVID-19

Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Office

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the disease can spread from person to person through small droplets. This takes place when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales, transferring droplets either onto objects/ surfaces (which then comes into contact with another person) or directly through breathing in said droplets.

This strain of coronavirus has alarmed the world with the speed of which it spreads. Because of how efficient this virus has been in infecting people around the world, COVID-19 has caused more deaths than SARS  in a shorter period of time.

A reason the disease has been so effective in getting people sick is in part due to the long incubation period of 2-14 days. The problem is that a carrier of COVID-19 may not realise they’re sick as they may only show mild symptoms. Without realising, they can then go on to infect others around them.

Governments around the world are now emphasizing the need to practice social distancing. Businesses are encouraged to implement work-from-home arrangements to minimise further spread. In Hong Kong, after an alarming surge of confirmed cases, it is looking to close its borders to visitors and even ban the sale of alcohol at certain bars and restaurants to sway people from gathering in public.

Source: The Spinoff – New Zealand online magazine

By practicing social distancing, we can better manage the outbreak. This is important for businesses on a fundamental level. Seeing how easily the coronavirus disease can travel from one person to another, if businesses do not take the necessary precautions, it can result in a workforce failure and the total shutdown of operations.

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Businesses in Asia Adopting Work-From-Home

Working from home is much less common in Asia than in the West. While according to the 2019 IWG Global Workspace Survey, 51% of businesses in China say they have some sort of flexible workspace policy, from what we can see it is defined quite differently.

By and large, Chinese companies operate from a top-down management style where attendance is closely tied to their KPIs and bonus. While in other areas of Asia such as Hong Kong and Singapore, working from home is a more common concept, it is still not widely practiced.

With the exception of tech start-ups and creative agencies, many business leaders are still wary of people slacking off when working remotely. Facing COVID-19, companies have little choice but to enforce remote work arrangements in order to secure their workforce. For many leaders, the fear is that productivity will suffer. 

Fortunately, this does not have to be the case. In the following section, let’s discuss how you can train your employees to work from home and produce extraordinary results with this simple management strategy.

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Boost Productivity with a Results-Oriented Workplace

What is the ROWE Management Style?

ROWE stands for a results-oriented work environment. First created in 2005, this management style was designed to increase productivity while eliminating conventional constraints of a traditional workplace. 

Instead of looking at hours worked, productivity is measured purely by an employee’s output, their results. Employees have total autonomy over where, when, and how they work under ROWE. 

Do Results-Oriented Working Actually Guarantee Results?

COVID-19 has forced a majority of the white-collar working class into a workforce experiment, sending many people home to work remotely. Business leaders will need to adjust and adapt their mindsets to the new mode of work in order to see the results.

When being present is no longer possible, managers need to be clear in redefining their expectations. Looking at organisations that have adopted a results-oriented environment,  advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages.

Overall, ROWE is also a great way for businesses to attract and retain top performing talent and employees without having to pay for major wage increases.

2-Year Stanford Study Finds a 13-24% Increase in Productivity from Employees Working Remotely

Just how productive are people working from home?
Source: TEDx – Youtube

In a 2 year experiment, Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom partnered with Ctrip, a major travel services provider in China to test the effects working from home had on employees.

The experiment was conducted on 500 employees, divided into 2 groups with one being the control group. What the experiment found was this:

  • Employees who worked from home were 13% more productive than those working at the office
  • Quit rates dropped by 50% in employees who worked remotely

What was most astonishing however was that after the experiment was over Ctrip allowed employees to decide whether they wanted to work at the office or from home.  When people’s choices were accounted for, the productivity of people working remotely increased to 24%!

Key Ways to Boost Productivity with Work from Home Arrangements During COVID-19

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Communicating KPIs and Delegating Ownership

With the COVID-19 sending everyone home to work remotely, leaders will need to more effectively communicate goals and expectations. This means delegating ownership to associates and holding people responsible for projects instead of individual tasks. 

Strategise your Workforce to be Results Driven

A leader should anticipate and adapt. Instead of looking at the current state of work as temporary, leaders are calls to drive results even at a time of adversity. Optimise your workforce for performance. This may mean outsourcing secondary functions to more effectively attune their focus to one goal and one goal only, sales generating results.

Accommodate for different work styles

Prolongs periods of time in the house can be draining as well. To avoid cabin fever and promote a degree of collaboration, a possible idea is to use A/B teams. Alternating weekly, you avoid the cross spread of the coronavirus throughout your workforce while promoting higher productivity. If you are looking to streamline your HR function,  get in touch with one of our representatives today and learn how we can help you.

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