Amid the COVID'19 pandemic, the way of life disrupted itself into a new form as different parts of the world went into lockdown. This resulted in a number of companies opting for work from home to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
A new way of managing workers and operations posed challenges to the companies on a larger scale. Let us discover how to manage newly remote workers in an effective manner.
Even though clear remote work policies have been established and the workers are given the necessary training to ensure smooth business operations, however, the quick transition may not be easier. There are a number of factors that can lead to reduced performance of the employees, as discussed below:
Unlike office operations, managing work responsibilities from home can be a bit tricky. A gig worker may not be privileged enough to own separate space within the house for carrying out operations. Furthermore, there is a difficulty to draw a line between work tasks and home chores due to overarching space. Also, due to non-commute to the workspace, keeping up to the daily schedule seems like an unachievable task. Hence, the busier lifestyle and overarching responsibilities make it difficult for them to clear-headedly and effectively carry out their tasks.
Organizational culture is one of the first aspects of office life that gig workers seem to miss a lot. There will not be enough support available in-person to tackle the work challenges nor anyone can fill up the empty space in case of an emergency. There is not a solid foundation to integrate the gig workers into the company culture through a holistic approach. Rather, this can lead to a lack of commitment and presence from gig employees.
Maintaining focus and remaining committed to the tasks while working from home is among several challenges that gig workers face. Due to the invisible boundary between home and office space, it is nearly impossible for them to keep their attention limited to a single task. Most of them often struggle with managing the schedule and often are seen working late at night to finish the tasks.
Lack of communication among gig workers is one of the main challenges that need to be overcome. Their message can only be comprehended in an effective manner through face-to-face communication only. Though a number of tools have been developed to facilitate collaboration & communication among management and gig employees, however, these digital mediums do not account for actual human interaction.
In order to perform efficiently at the workplace, submit the tasks on time, be up & ready for meetings and to keep up with the schedule, a routine needs to be maintained and followed accordingly. However, for gig workers keeping up with a consistent routine is challenging due to marginal restrictions orchestrated by the managerial team while working remotely.
Though the gig economy has risen to fame during the recession period, much boost was given to it by the Millenials who were looking for flexible opportunities. The more skilled the gig workers are, the better they are to land opportunities of their choice.
The COVID'19 pandemics left no choice for organizations across the globe to go virtual and deal with all the business operations from their home space. The sudden transition left both managers and employees on the verge of collapse. However, with proper responsibilities matrix and policies laid out by the companies facilitates the remote employees in business operations.
Let us discover the detailed checklist for managers that can help them out with managing the newly hired as well as turned-to gig workers:
A job description can be referred to as something of an operational manual, where the agreed procedures are defined. A job description is an integral responsibility of the human resource department to clearly and concisely define the scope of each employee's work duties. It allows the gig employees to be aware of the job role, clarifies out their job expectations, identifies the pay scale, the type of skills or competency expected, the hierarchical placement of the job position and the consequent accountability. Furthermore, they can argue for their rights or deny out-of-the-scope tasks.
Due to the unconventional setup and work hours layout, a proper job description layout serves as the performance management tool for the management team and a basis for gig employee contracts. Hence, the managerial team must provide the gig workers with their respective job descriptions for a smooth work relationship.
Research has shown that most of the employees like to engage in non-verbal communication to convey their message effectively. It is often considered an effective strategy when managers need to maintain communication with the gig employees through video calling applications. It allows the managers to access their worker's motivational level and understand their consent through their body language.
There are a number of free as well as premium video calling applications which the managers can employ to connect with their employees for meetings or for a one-on-one conversation. These include, but are not limited to, Zoom, Google Meet, Messenger and Skype.
Technology has become one of the important aspects of our lives since its inception and has made this world a global village ever since. Though technology has always been an essential part of human lives, it has become more of a necessity due to the COVID'19 pandemic. Due to lockdown, businesses had to shut down operations and shift towards work from home.
Not every gig employee is privileged enough to own all the technological resources to facilitate communication and fulfill business responsibilities. Hence, the managers should make sure to provide the gig employees with the latest tools & technology for effective business operations and enhanced connectivity among all employees.
Unlike regular employees, the gig workers are not privileged enough to have access to performance reviews during their remote job. The performance reviews though work wonders for both traditional and gig employees, however, in the case of gig workers the patterns slightly differ from the traditional ones.
For gig employees, the performance reviews often revolve around making them feel a part of the system, encouraging them and giving them proper recognition. Managers must ensure to make it part of the employee operations' mechanism to make them aware of all the latest happenings within the business landscape. They should allow open discussion & listen to the suggestions from gig employees' side, must accept feedback on their behalf too, building their morale from time to time and create a sense of community through regular virtual meetups.
Since the gig economy is fueled by one of the important factors of flexible working hours and people working from different work zones, that need to be kept in mind by the managers while working with gig employees. Due to these factors, it might be difficult for the managers to reach out to all their gig employees at the same time or a single one at a particular time.
To avoid this kind of inconvenience, the managers must ask or inform the gig employees beforehand of any meetings. It is better to schedule a meeting with the consent and working zone of the gig employee to ensure smooth coordination and communication.
Striking the perfect balance between work responsibilities and house chores is one of the most common challenges faced by both traditional and gig employees. The schedule gets tougher and often that leads to overarching tasks. Work-life balance is essential for employees as it allows them to have a sense of entitlement regarding their lives, they are more motivated and less stressed out.
Managers need to ensure that their gig workers are not overworking, stressed out and manage to ensure a perfect balance between public and private lives. In order to do so, the manager must ensure to provide a proper schedule as per their competency level, provide them with coaching services, keep an eye out for burnout and provide incentives or bonus as a token of appreciation.
In this digital and technological era, there are a number of tools available to ensure employee engagement effectively and efficiently. For gig employees, the engagement becomes even more crucial as it allows them to feel part of a work community, benefit from multi-directional feedback and most importantly, fight off the loneliness inherent to the gig economy. Employee engagement with the passage of time has become an important indicator of business success.
For a manager working within the gig economy, he/she must ensure to provide the gig employees with an opportunity to invest in the business not through solid means but also through their emotional workout. Only then they will be able to feel the motivation and energy to improve their productivity. Some of the online tools that can help the managers engage the employee better include but not limited to ProofHub, BambooHR, Todoist, GoToMeeting and Slack.
While working within the gig economy, many people tend to think of it as a work opportunity where you have the freedom and free will to choose the working hours of their choice. This is true in the sense of working hours, however, the freewill gets limited when it comes to work deadlines. The gig employees may or may not be privileged enough to exercise their free will when it comes to deciding the deadlines.
The managers are often the key players when it comes to assigning the clear deadlines of a particular gig or gigs for the employees. A clear deadline allows the gig workers to be aware of how much the urgency a particular gig carries, by when it needs to be submitted and how they can schedule the task completion with respect to their working hours' slot. Furthermore, a clear cut deadline also eliminates any kind of discrepancies and any confusion on behalf of both the managers and the gig employees.
Last but not the least, ensuring a two-way feedback mechanism is a viable manner to ensure active participation, emotional investment and a sense of entitlement on behalf of both the managers and gig employees. An enabling and thriving business ecosystem depends upon how managers ensure that their gig workers are not only efficiently completing their assigned tasks but are also feeling themselves a part of the community.
Feedback on behalf of the employees can help the managers identify loopholes in their HR policies, a missing point within their strategic operations, understand their take on overall business matters as well as hierarchical layouts. These reviews and feedback can be of a formal as well as informal nature, shared in a meeting, over a Google form or even a cup of coffee. However, if integrated in a perfect manner, the gig workers can help the managers thrive through an internal comprehensive overview of the system as evident from the gig employees' feedback.
The number of employees who work remotely has been in trend ever since the recession time, however, has received a much boost amid the COVID'19 pandemic as even the traditional businesses were forced into working and managing operations remotely to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Remote work brings with itself a number of benefits as well as challenges for the employees and the managers, especially if they are into the gig economy for the first time.
For effective business operations through remote means, the managers need to ensure that they are taking certain measures for effectively managing their employees. They must become a beacon of hope and integrity for their gig employees so that they don't feel out of the system and are actively engaged within the work ecosystem!