A Microsoft report showed that at the start of the global pandemic, the number of minutes spent in meetings saw a 200% year-on-year increase.  Video call times increased by a whopping 1000% in 2020 alone.

While the pandemic-induced transition to remote working has had a significant impact on technology, the impact on people has been even more significant. Long hours spent on video calls have been found to quickly get mundane and exhausting. Collaboration becomes more challenging in situations where people are unable to interact physically. This adds to the underlying concern that people have had over their families and their health, as well as all the challenges that come with the combination of homeschooling and full-time remote working.

Putting employees first

Some companies have been lucky to have management teams that put employees first, securing jobs and making alternative arrangements for employees stuck between homeschooling and remote working.

For one company, Microsoft Teams played a pivotal role in facilitating communications between employees with the help of a dedicated Teams channel. Employees were encouraged to share personal experiences, communicate, ask questions, and air their concerns over the situation.

To figure out the best way to collaborate, various formats and technologies were tested, starting with the Teams Live meeting application in a bid to stay within the 250-attendee limit imposed on regular Teams meetings. It turned out that interactions within Teams Live Meetings feature were more challenging than within the Teams app, so lessons were learned there.

People-first culture

According to Bridge Partners, cultivating a people-focused culture is a key element for any company looking to stand the test of time. While it takes time to build a healthy, people-focused corporate culture, there are simple key changes that companies adjusting to a post-pandemic world can implement to get started. 

Flexible working allows employees to retain control over when and how they choose to work, so long as their preferred working patterns align with the objectives of the team and clients.

Some companies implement “well-being weeks”, where the focus shifts to the well-being of team members. These initiatives offer workers opportunities for inspiration and time to reflect on matters related to their wellbeing.

The stresses associated with remote work aren’t restricted to just employees.  Leadership teams share in the burden of adaptation too. In Microsoft’s Remote Work Trend Report mentioned above, it was indicated that there was a 19% increase in manager-employee 1:1 meetings and a 115% increase in chat messages for managers.

People-focused leadership means that there is a need for leaders to change their communication channels and communication style, to remain accessible, and encourage their team members to connect in informal ways.

A change management team and strategy can help to achieve these by identifying the most ideal communication channels and helping to analyse the impact of communication.

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