Everyone works differently than they did before the coronavirus. In these new conditions, many old work rules look and feel outdated.
Formal or informal, they don’t work because they fit circumstances that don’t exist anymore.
“It’s critical to take a hard look at how things used to be, what’s changed since then, and most important, how we must respond to those changes,” said Attorney Rosanna Berardi, CEO of the consultancy firm High Wire Woman, in her recent Entrepreneur post.
HR will want to watch, adapt or overhaul work rules that don’t fit your organization in the coming months and years.
Here are the top four rules to start with. Many HR leaders have found they quickly became outdated when employees moved home to work.
Rule 1: Keep ‘office hours’
Traditional office hours worked when businesses were open, customers visited and employees actually separated work from life.
Now, many people work (and struggle to balance) from home and no one visits the business. Work gets done along with homeschooling and life’s concerns.
That’s why Berardi suggests “predefined active hours.”
Front-line managers might pick times that are essential for their team members to work and be available to meet and collaborate.
Beyond that, leaders might want to give more leeway to employees to get their work done, and meet deadlines and expectations.
Rule 2: Work 40 hours, 9-5
Similarly, the traditional workweek – 40 hours, which Berardi points out was coined more than 200 years ago as eight hours labor, eight hours recreation and eight hours rest – may not be the best formula now.
An eight-hour workday and 40-hour week might be more than enough. And shorter or fewer days might help improve employees’ quality of work and life.
Researchers have found employees work better in concentrated periods and when they’re in control of their own schedules.
Leaders might want to back down from a rigid work schedule, and monitor if employees remain productive, to determine if it works for your team.
Rule 3: Maintain constant oversight
If employees don’t work on-site all the time, leaders can’t oversee them and their work. So any leader who believed in micromanaging can’t do it going forward.
At the same time, a hands-off leader might lose control of a remote work team.
Instead, Berardi suggests leaders and employees amp up accountability. Managers will want to set clear expectations and become a touch point, not a bottleneck.
Then establish key metrics, so managers and employees know when they’re on target or not. They can schedule weekly check-ins when employees share their top three priorities and everyone is sure they have the resources to achieve them.
Rule 4: Be a boss
Many managers consider their main role is to “manage people, work and the workplace.”
Now, more than ever, employees and companies need leaders, not just managers. A few keys for managers to become more leader-like:
- Avoid pointing fingers at people and/or the current work circumstances for issues and challenges everyone faces.
- Be proactive. Regularly ask employees about their concerns and challenges handling their responsibilities and working in a new environment.
- Empower employees to create the best working situations for themselves, so they can continue to be productive and engaged.