With the schools closed and the UK effectively in lockdown, this new way of working adds a new dynamic to how you can best support your people in the current environment.
I’ve spoken before about encouraging adult-to-adult relationships in the workplace, and I believe we need to build on that approach now more than ever.
As people leaders, adviser owners and practice managers, we will likely have to adjust some of the usual parameters so that our people can do what they need to do for their families, while at the same time protecting the interests of clients.
Striking the right balance is a leadership challenge. It will mean a collective effort and will involve a degree of give and take on both sides.
We’ve done some work to understand what options might work best for us in terms of business continuity planning, so are sharing these here in case they are helpful for your firm.
In all of this, don’t feel you need to have all the answers. These are difficult times for everyone – the important thing is for you and your colleagues to support each other as best you can, and work through any issues that arise.
Support for school closures
For many of us, the idea of balancing children at home while delivering in our roles will mean a radical change. The next while may be an emotionally and logistically difficult time for many.
Working from home for a prolonged period of time isn’t something we’re used to, and certainly not when combined with the prospect of home schooling our kids at the same time.
If possible, you may want to consider the use of dependent leave or annual leave for members of your team with childcare responsibilities.
There may be other short-term measures which can help if appropriate for the role, such as shifting work patterns to other times of day.
For example, this could mean someone working a few hours in the morning, having some time with the kids, and then working again in the afternoon or evening.
Clearly, there’ll be some rules around this, perhaps setting a minimum number of hours that should be worked during core business hours, particularly for those in client-facing roles.
Another option is for people to do some of their work at the weekend (but treated as normal working).
This could lengthen their week, allowing them to work less hours each day but spread over six or seven days for example, or allowing a partner to take on the childcare while they work some hours at the weekend.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ for this, so people should consider the options available to them, consider the business impact and chat it through with their manager to find a solution that supports them, their family, the team and the wider business.
This is a two-way deal – it may be that you’re continuing to pay everyone in full during this time, which no doubt your team will appreciate.
But in return, your ‘ask’ should be that everyone stays as motivated and productive as they can, and does their best to work their contractual hours each week.
If this isn’t possible, encourage people to come and talk to you about this so that alternative arrangements can be made.
Encourage everyone to adopt behaviours that enable their best work, and to respect colleagues’ needs when collaborating on projects.
No one saw this pandemic coming. As a result, people may have already booked annual leave.
Obviously, travel plans will have changed over recent weeks and people may be considering cancelling their leave requests.
It’s up to individuals whether they want to cancel leave or not, but it’s worth encouraging your team to speak to their managers about the impact this might have on the business.
On the one hand, people cancelling their annual leave might actually support your team in its delivery if others become sick and have to self-isolate.
On the other hand, cancelling leave now may mean the firm is left with a lot of people taking a lot of holiday towards the end of the year.
Take the time to understand what’s best for you as a team. Also, encourage people to think about taking some time for themselves and their families, and to focus on their health and wellbeing.
With people working remotely, it’s important to maintain a sense of the team and that people are engaged with company decisions.
Without kitchen conversations and meetings, it’s easy to miss new decisions and status updates.
We think most people would rather be contacted across multiple channels than feel out of the loop.
So you may want to communicate more than you would under normal circumstances. If there are virtual ways to maintain regular company rituals, like weekly staff catch-ups for example, then all the better.
Keep encouraging questions from your team.
As mentioned, you may not have all the answers, but a steady stream of questions helps you and your management team provide clarity for everyone. It also means that everyone is on the same page.
Everyone is adjusting to this new way of working, all the while trying to maintain high levels of service. All you can do is support your colleagues to the best of your ability, and keep the communication flowing.
There’s also a host of articles and resources for advisers on Human Capital, our website designed to help you in supporting your people. It includes ideas, best practice and policy templates on all people-related aspects of your business, from culture and staff engagement to hiring and performance. You can check it out here