PROVO, Utah, March 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Corporate America is taking quick action to keep their employees safe from COVID-19. However, a new survey from VitalSmarts, a corporate training and leadership development company, shows that recently adopted work-from-home policies may lead to significant challenges as employees are ill-equipped to handle the changes.
According to the March study of 1,097 adults, a third of respondents say their organizations have a plan in place they are confident about and 43 percent have a basic plan—even if it is "hastily assembled". Most plans center on remote work and travel restrictions. Specifically:
And yet, while these actions ensure employees' safety and health, they synonymously pose a risk to the vital signs of the business. Specifically, more than 1 in 5 (21.19 percent) employees don't feel their team members have good enough collaboration habits to work effectively from home.They also say1 in 5 leaders are either very unprepared or unprepared to manage remote teams.Overall, 65 percent are concerned COVID-19 will influence their company's operations.
While leaders are acting with agility, researchers wonder if employees will be able to follow suit.
"The speed in which American businesses have responded to this outbreak is impressive," said Justin Hale, a productivity expert and researcher at VitalSmarts. "But if leaders aren't prepared to manage remote teams or if these teams don't have good communication and collaboration habits in place, the effects of this virus could disrupt team connectivity, morale and accountability—not to mention results."
A previous study from VitalSmarts about the impact of working remotely found that people who work from home have a significantly harder time addressing challenges. When they had concerns, 84 percent of remote employees said their concerns dragged on for a few days or more, and 47 percent admitted to letting them drag on for a few weeks or more. Remote employees also reported seeing larger, negative impacts on results like productivity, costs, deadlines, morale, stress and retention than their onsite colleagues.
"Our research over the past three decades proves the health and success of any team is determined by the speed and quality of communication between colleagues," says Hale. "Teams that can hold candid and effective dialogue—minus the emotions and politics—experience higher morale and results. Establishing these norms and skills with teams that are facing new 'rules', new spaces, and heightened emotions in the wake of COVID-19 is vital."
Hale adds that managers play a particularly important role, especially in times of uncertainty.
"When managers model stellar communication, especially when it's really transparent and timely, the rest of the team follows suit," says Hale. "The less managers leave their people guessing or wondering, the better. You can't overestimate the influence a manager has on his or her team's ability to engage in dialogue and create a collaborative and healthy culture—especially when distance and technology are suddenly part of the equation."
Hales shares the following best practices for managing remote teams—skills that can help a leader mitigate the risks inherent in workplace changes brought about by COVID-19.
7 Skills for Managing Remote Employees
About VitalSmarts:Named a Top 20 Leadership Training Company, VitalSmarts is home to the award-winning Crucial Conversations®, Crucial Accountability®, Getting Things Done®, The Power of Habit®, and Influencer Training®, and New York Times best-selling books of the same titles. VitalSmarts has consulted with more than 300 of the Fortune 500 companies and trained more than 2 million people worldwide. www.vitalsmarts.com
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