Home office and medical quarantine - How to safeguard the company’s progress

VIRTUAL MEETINGS

Kristoffer Biørnstad
18.03.2020

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many strict guidelines have been placed in order to prevent infection risk in the workplace. We now have a work situation few are prepared for and that will cause major challenges for the continuity and progress.

Working virtually and cross-functional is no longer an exception, it has rather become the new norm. To succeed with cross-functional teams and working smoothly across the value chain is what we call Business Agile. According to VG, eight of ten Norwegian companies now work out of a home office which means that people are forced into a working day without the possibility of physical interaction with their colleagues.

Exceptional situations require companies to react quickly in order to adapt to new terms and market conditions. Making “the right” strategic and business-critical decisions becomes challenging when you cannot work smoothly across the value chain. This is where we recommend that you must organize smartly around virtual meeting places as home offices does not have to impact productivity.

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Home office doesn't need to reduce productivity

Today’s technological solutions and proven facilitation techniques enables most forms of meeting activity to be held at the same level of efficiency as traditional meetings.

“We consider companies’ ability to effectively define and facilitate relevant meeting activities as critical success factors to keep the wheels turning with employees at home office,” says Ellen Kjær, Head of Future Organizations at Knowit Insight.

How to facilitate three relevant meeting venues

What is being defined as relevant meeting venue varies from company to company, but at an aggregated level we divide this into three categories:

  1. One-to-one meetings are both scheduled and ad-hoc conversations that managers run with their employees. Reconciliation meetings that employees carry out between themselves will also count as a one-to-one meeting and should be encouraged by managers. Facilitating viritual one-to-one meetings is not significantly different from the traditional one, but a few things are important to conduct high-quality.



    EX1
    1. Firstly, it is important that the meetings are maintained as part of the working day in order to create the feeling that the work situation has not changed significantly.

    2. Secondly, although it may be tempting to run the meeting as a traditional phone call, it can affect the output as the visual aspect makes the conversation much more personal, lively and engaging.

  1. Team meetings are those meeting venues that are conducted at a fixed, predefined frequency. Team meetings include meetings at project, team and organisational level and are there to ensure that necessary information is shared, updates and clarifications needed to maintain the desired progress are given. These meetings are important, however they offer challenges facilitators as complexity arise and demand for preparation increases.

    EX 2
    1. Firstly, all participants should have access to and possess expertise in the chosen communication tool

    2. Secondly, agendas should be documented and shared in advance of the meeting, so that everyone has the opportunity to be prepared
      Thirdly, the facilitator should be very clear on what is expected of the preparation and most preferably allocate responsibility of agenda items to few or several of the participants.

  2. Work meetings are typically meetings that are conducted to discuss issues and carry out problem solving across disciplines or teams. The meetings are held when interdisciplinary collaboration is required to ensure progress. However, work meetings are more demanding because the meetings vary in size and shapes and the degree of interactivity increases. The following are important to achieve high quality:


    EX 3
    1. Firstly, all participants should prepare a concrete presentation of themselves for the initiation of the meeting, this ensures that everyone knows who is present and contributes across social and professional affiliation. This is particularly important if the participants do not know each other

    2. Secondly, the facilitator should be practiced and comfortable using a virtual tablet that everyone can see during the meeting

    3. Thirdly, frequent control questions along the way will help increase awareness and interaction

    4. Fourthly, maintain the rule on technical breaks at least every 45 minutes

    5. Finally, a clear summary and role distribution at the end of the meeting, will ensure that it is clear which tasks will be done by who in the future, often referred to as “next steps”

We believe that if a company is able to define relevant meeting arenas and adapt the facilitation, the company is well positioned to maintain efficiency with high-quality.

Three scientific benefits of successful virtual meeting business

Good practices for the use of home office and virtual meetings also provide long-term benefits, compared to companies that focus on traditional meeting activities. We consider three benefits praticularly remarkable:

  • Increased productivity Global Workplace Analytics and Flexjobs find in their survey that 65% of respondents are more productive in the home office than in the workplace
  • Reduced costs In a survey conducted by PGI, they find that companies that have extensively used video conferencing save 30% in travel costs. In addition, companies that facilitate the extensive use of a home office will reduce rent and maintenance costs For example, the insurance company Aetna saves 800 MNOK in annual rental cost after moving to smaller premises
  • Increased employee satisfaction and health In their survey, Global Workplace Analytics and Flexjobs found that 77 and 86% of respondents, respectively, feel that workplace flexibility provides improved health and lower stress levels. The results are consistent with PGi’s findings, with 82% of employees working from home reporting lower stress levels

Home office in a time-limited Covid-19 horizon is not an obstacle to maintain productivity and strategic plans.

We are happy to help you prevent the home office from becoming a break from business. Through a work meeting, we can jointly evaluate where you stand today, and interactively identify and train what is required to ensure effective collaboration on virtual channels.

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Or contact +47 40204095 / kristoffer.biornstad@knowit.no.

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