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How employers can make #WFH work in their favour

Belinda Wan
October 15, 2021

So not feeling it: Mounting expectations and reduced interaction with colleagues while WFH may cause employees to become disengaged over time. Photo credit: Unsplash


Most companies these days are adopting the hybrid work mode, which is likely to stay in place even when Singapore reopens gradually, which effectively puts to rest the possibility of a full work week at the office. When case numbers rise, like they are now, working from home (WFH) also becomes the default.

The hybrid mode consists of working some days in the office, and WFH; often determined by a roster that features two or more teams that cannot mingle. Yet the arrangement brings with it the risk of employee disengagement.

Here’s how you can make the best out of WFH, as an SME owner.


Trust your team

Get rid of any nagging feeling that your employees are slacking just because you can’t see them slaving away at their desks.

In the general scheme of things, they will get around to fulfilling their deliverables because they have to. After all, life goes on and work goals need to be met.

So learn to trust them and allow them the freedom to do their work independently.


Hold weekly meetings

It’s a good practice to meet your team over Zoom or any other web-based video platform just to hear how the work week has been.

Now that you can’t just call for a meeting with them at the office, having weekly meetings will allow your team to share important updates.

However, if you schedule too many meetings just for the sake of it, your staff are likely to experience meeting fatigue, and may become stressed, annoyed or frustrated.

Make sure every meeting has an agenda and ensure that everyone has a clearer idea of what to do after it. If not, you would have wasted everyone’s time, even if it was just a video meeting.


Respect their personal time

Singaporeans are already an overworked lot; but the WFH phenomenon has worsened this, and tipped the scales of work-life balance askew.

A Randstad Workmonitor survey found that 56 per cent of employees in Singapore felt that they are unable to disconnect from work while having flexible work arrangements.

Employees may feel compelled to work overtime or do more just to “prove” they are working when at home. Messaging apps such as WhatsApp also exacerbate the problem.

This always-on mentality can lead to fatigue and even burnout in the long run. And a burnt-out employee is going to be less productive than a well-rested one.

As a boss, try to contact your staff only during working hours. Anything else (unless it’s really urgent) can wait till the next day. Do not call your team or hold meetings with them during lunch too.

In addition, try not to be annoyed if your employee doesn’t answer your 12am WhatsApp message immediately. Surely it can wait. After all, she’ll be working at her desk again in about eight hours.


Do not micromanage

A micromanager is one who keeps excessive tabs on his or her staff for no good reason. Most micromanaging bosses don’t even know they are one until they are told.

But a golden rule of thumb: Value the product and not the process. It doesn’t really matter how your employee did a piece of work as long as you are happy with it. If you are not… well, it brings us to the next point.


Have reasonable expectations

If you find yourself constantly unhappy with the work done by your team, it may be a good time to do some reflection.

While you should ensure the work produced is of a high standard, finding fault with anything done by your team is a sure-fire way to kill their morale.

It’s impossible to please a boss whose expectations are sky-high. After a while, your team members are likely to give up trying. When they do, the quality of their work will suffer. So when you can…


…give credit when it’s due

What may seem like an average piece of work may have taken your team members hours to do.

Let your team members know if there are areas for improvement, but do so tactfully. If the work was well done, let them know too.

Many bosses underestimate the importance of praise and acknowledgement.


Don’t be too hard on anyone

Miscommunication or the omission of important updates will occur in a WFH set-up. It’s only to be expected.

After all, you can’t step over to your employee’s desk to ask something. Or worse, you may forget to. Likewise for your staff.

If and when that happens, deal with the problem swiftly and learn from it. Tell your team that it’s a learning point. Because it is, and everyone’s just trying their best.


Have a good amount of empathy

When they’re not doing their work, your team members have to deal with Life too.

They will have to get lunch, cook dinner, buy appliances, mind the kids, take care of their parents, walk the dog, do grocery runs, get their vaccination jabs done… the list goes on.

So don’t get paranoid or believe the worst of them if they don’t answer your call or message immediately.

It would be unreasonable to expect them to always be work-ready and at their desks. Life gets in the way of work sometimes – now more so than ever.


Throw in some humour

Remember that your team members have their fair share of work-related challenges to surmount, even as they grapple with things brewing in their personal lives.

Now that team bonding is only relegated to WhatsApp and Zoom calls, they also may feel uncertain or isolated.

Try to use humour to defuse any tension in an awkward Zoom meeting or botched presentation, even as you try to work things out with your team. After all, you’re in this together.

Remember that the importance of humour at work is often overlooked. You’d be surprised though – it may be all you need to motivate your staff!  

This is the shortened version of an article that was first published in Lendingpot’s October 2021 newsletter.


Leading digital loan marketplace Lendingpot connects SMEs to its network of 45 lenders comprising relationship managers from banks, financial institutions, and private and peer-to-peer lenders in Singapore for free. It aims to help SMEs overcome the information asymmetry problem and lack of transparency prevalent in the SME financing sector by offering SMEs financing options such as business term loans, property loans, revenue-based financing, credit lines, working capital loans, bridging loans, invoice financing, and more.


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Leading digital loan marketplace Lendingpot connects SMEs to its network of 45 lenders comprising relationship managers from banks, financial institutions, and private and peer-to-peer lenders in Singapore. It aims to help SMEs overcome the information asymmetry problem and lack of transparency prevalent in the SME financing sector by offering SMEs financing options such as business term loans, property loans, revenue-based financing, credit lines, working capital loans, bridging loans, invoice financing, and more.

About the author

Belinda loves thinking about random stuff, and collecting useless bits of facts and trivia. She often roots for the underdog, and believes the world needs more happy endings.

SMEs
business
WFH
Work From Home
Employers

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