2nd wave: Effectively shaping the future

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While the first wave is characterized by quick measures, in which the duty of care for your employees is the first priority, the next wave is about stabilizing the newly established system and making it effective. This is where all measures are consolidated and optimized.

“Clean up” legal issues

Now is the time to properly implement regulatory and legal requirements. Make sure that all employees who work from home sign a corresponding “home office” agreement. If you have ordered measures to be followed in the savings bank branch, for example for hand disinfection, these rules must be agreed with the works or staff council. 

Provide assistance: explanatory videos, online training, webinars

When switching from on-premises work to virtual work, your employees need time to learn new ways of working. For this reason, they should be instructed in how to use the technology, for example through short explanatory videos, online training or webinars.

Detach yourself from rigid working time models and create transparency

If employees do not sit together in the office, but work from home, different responsibilities outside of work quickly arise. Some have to look after their children who can no longer go to school, others go shopping for their parents. Therefore, you should break away from rigid working time models and allow individual core working hours and corresponding transparency within the team and towards all interfaces. Briefly checking in and out, using phrases such as “Good morning”, “I’m off for my lunch break” or “That’s it for today” have proven to be effective in existing communication tools. 

Create a clear, schedulable meeting structure

The requirements for a well-prepared virtual meeting do not differ significantly from those of an analog meeting. But now it is even more important that these requirements are met, otherwise it will be an inefficient and frustrating meeting for all participants.
Here are our tips:

  • Make clear goals and a clear agenda transparent in advance
  • Critically examine the group of participants and define it with your target in mind: Who can really help?
  • Set and stick to realistic time blocks—sometimes a quick 15 or 20 minute discussion will do
  • Agree rules of communication, for example, if you are not speaking at the moment, mute your microphone, and create appropriate conditions, especially a stable connection and a quiet environment 
  • Distribute tasks during the call and then send a short note including homework and responsibilities to all participants
  • Work in pairs on a shared screen to think through or solve complex issues, so-called pairing
Take the opportunity to develop as a leader

The current situation is unfamiliar to all involved, whether manager or employee. As with any change, however, managers are assigned a special role. Use the situation to develop yourself and your team in terms of communication, collaboration and personal responsibility. 

Our tips for this in a nutshell:

  • Be a role model and lead the way in implementing the recommendations and the new, still unfamiliar collaboration model
  • Get help and offer it proactively
  • Be accessible and virtually visible: proactively find out how your employees are doing
  • Assess your own area of responsibility: Working in virtual teams means that processes initially take longer, bottlenecks occur, and tasks have to be prioritized. Therefore, the following guiding questions apply: What is really important and urgent now? What can we leave out for the moment?
  • Trust your employees: As a manager, you cannot constantly monitor your teams, but must give your employees freedom and therefore trust. This applies both to working hours and to the work itself. Manage work content or results rather than sticking to simple activity checking
Communicate continuously

Good communication becomes even more important when switching from on-premises work to virtual work. There are a number of general aspects that you should consider when working in virtual teams:

  • Don’t neglect the personal relationship: “How was the weekend?” or “How are the kids?” remain important questions
  • Use video instead of telephone calls
  • Agree on clear communication rules in the team or company and make them visible and relevant to everyday life
  • Make joint progress and work results visible, for example through a digital kanban board
  • It is extremely important that the exchange of information and documents is organized in a fair and transparent manner

Furthermore, corporate communication in a crisis must be continuous, up-to-date and easy to find. Despite all the uncertainty, provide process security and also be frank about what you currently do not know.
With a view to collaboration after the crisis, it is important to consolidate what has been learned going forward. So continue to create the relevant conditions and keep your employees on board. That way you can create attractive working conditions for future employees, provide further training for your own staff and be well equipped for future situations of this kind. “Start quickly, never stop”—that is our credo.