The operations of many companies in the metals industry are based on physical production facilities and offices, to host a variety of staff for different functions. It has been hard to adapt to the sudden home working mode forced upon us by the COVID-19 crisis. We are now living through a situation which most of us could never have imagined before. All the good old routines which we had grown accustomed to, have suddenly replaced by a great uncertainty. Changes can be hard to accept, and it is a natural human condition to resist change in one way or the other. It happens with everyone, and the same goes for businesses across all industries.
While the digitalisation topic has been circulating for quite some time now, it has not always been necessary to act on it and put steps in place to align business operations with an increasingly digitalised economy. Remote work, or specifically working in a home office mode has been largely associated with a higher degree of personal freedom. It has often been idealised as a privilege for those who pursue 'liberal' creative industry jobs - far from the reality of classical office workers.
Now the fourth industrial revolution has suddenly become reality! The hallmark of year 2020, has become sudden global technological change where seemingly half the working world was revolutionised within a few months. Globally, companies have been forced to adopt more ´liberal´ working method to stay in business. Ironically, what was earlier seen as freedom, has materialised as being quite the opposite. We are now living and working at home. We are indeed stuck at home!
The big questions for businesses now are:
How do you manage the expectations of the staff and the company? How do you manage a company from home? How do you manage work and leisure at the same time?
Metalshub is a pioneer in the digital B2B trading business by facilitating the purchasing and selling process for ferroalloys and metals. The company has been founded on management methods and technologies from the digital tech sector. While being a digital technology company, the human factor, with accompanying personal relationships, are highly valued assets that act as the driving engine of a successful business model. We also care about the welfare of the wider community of professionals working within the ferroalloy and metals sector as well as other industries.
In this section, we wish to share our practical suggestions for managing your teams digitally:
- Technological infrastructure: your company will need to provide the basic tools for every employee to be able to fulfill their everyday jobs effectively. Complex business processes can be simplified and achieve better results when using digital tools.
- Communication: maintaining effective communication with colleagues and those who are in charge, is of utmost importance. Isolation causes fatigue, irritation and a general feeling of disconnection. To avoid this from negatively influencing a team's cohesion, daily meetings to discuss job related topics can be very helpful. These can be limited to 10 minutes calls with colleagues to share current experiences and even team game activities which can be found on the internet. Most importantly, do not hide your feelings - share them. Your colleagues are probably feeling the same way you are. Team leaders should also keep their employees aware of the company’s current situation to reduce the climate of insecurity. Effective and honest communication is key.
- Setting goals and routines: It is common for employees to feel that their workload is even higher while working from home. From home they can work like they want, when they want, and without interruptions. Working from home can, however, still generate a feeling of anxiety due to the constant need to stay ‘online´ for the management. That's why it's extremely important that employees set themselves clear daily goals, as well as keeping to a similar routine to the one practiced in the regular workplace. Working from home makes it difficult to track progress or identify achievements. Therefore, team leaders should also focus on measuring objectives fairly, rather than merely controlling the number of hours spent ´online´.
- Suggestions and boundaries: Companies can, and should, advise their employees on the best working modes while encouraging breaks. It is important to be clear about the limits and what is acceptable behavior or not. It is important to remember that the human capacity to pay full attention to one thing is between 20-30 minutes (even though we sometimes tend to extend this period).
Whether we are working in a digital way, or in a traditional way, all of us have to deal with various emotions in our workplace on a daily basis. Team leaders, managers, bosses, and all employees are responsible for contributing to an effective and open communication environment, where feelings are articulated, shared and understood. In times of economic instability, it is vital that each team member is heard and supported. It is up to each one of us to put together the human pieces that will in the end, lead to successfully healing.
To help your teams work more effectively while having full process visibility, Metalshub offers a complete solution for digital procurement. Register now for free and test how easy it is to find, communicate, and conclude business with a global network suppliers online.
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