As the world faces unprecedented circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, small and medium-sized businesses are taking the brunt of the economic meltdown. But the innovative spirit of entrepreneurs and small business owners are prevailing. Many businesses in Sydney have been reaping the benefits of continuing business while employees are working from home. But human resource specialists are proposing that working from home may be something that stays longer after the pandemic. How can small businesses make the most of this new normal?
- Make sure all IT Tools and support are available to staff.
Businesses should remember that productivity will only be possible if necessary IT equipment are provided for workers. Laptops, at the minimum, and other devices such as tablets, work mobile phones, and even printers and the supplies that are needed (e.g. ink and paper) are necessary tools for production. On top of these hardware and IT equipment, small businesses should also have remote IT support services available for their staff. Providing remote IT services to staff is a key requirement to sustain productivity and avoid lag in systems.
Small businesses should treat these as necessary, long-term investments, as economies try to recover from the shock of lower production and consumption.
- Offer incentives for both overtime while working from home, and physical presence in the office, if needed.
Managers and HR practitioners should find flexible ways to offer incentives both for those who will choose to return to the physical office and for those who will prefer to continue maximizing work-from-home arrangements. Small businesses should recognize that there are benefits to these arrangements and they should allow their teams to identify which work style works best for them as individuals.
- Set periodic, physical check in.
While working from home is slowly being considered as the new normal, it is still critical to set physical meetings. Even if it’s just once a month or once every quarter, it is important to get everyone together in one room to discuss the most pressing issues and agenda affecting the business. Especially for small businesses, with less than 50 staff, it is best to gather everyone and set an agenda that allows everyone to speak and raise concerns that can be addressed immediately. There is no issue too small or too trivial. Physical meetings should be treated as an opportunity to resolve and, at the same time, “park” items which are not as critical in the coming weeks or months, or even for the year.
Small businesses in Sydney should remain optimistic, despite the challenges posed by this pandemic to the private sector. With their staff and the capability to continue operating, even without the physical space of a typical workplace, businesses could survive and thrive in such challenging situations.