SIX LOCKDOWN SURVIVAL GUIDELINES FOR SME’s
In November of 1992, I was assigned to a productivity improvement programme for a small shoe manufacturer in Hungary. It was during the freezing winter months with snow drifts up to 10ft, in the middle of nowhere.
We had a team of translators channeling communications with the clients’ project team. Only one telephone line connected us to the outside world. We had no photocopiers, or printers and just a couple of very heavy laptops between us.
The internet was still a far distant unknown called the “world wide web”. Mobile phones were expensive and cumbersome (and we couldn’t get signal where we were anyway). The first public email – Hotmail (HTML) wouldn’t be launched for another 4 years.
Life was less complex, simple. We achieved our project objectives.
In our now hi-tech world the Covid-19 pandemic is creating an extremely complex situation. We can, and will find ways to keep our businesses afloat. For small firms it’s a very precarious status, which needs to be carefully managed and different scenarios mitigated for. During these lockdown weeks moving employees to remote working from home, our SME’s are in for a very bumpy ride.
Here are some guidelines to get the best from your team whilst they’re enduring very uncertain times.
1. Reassure the team or at least be honest
The current climate is understandably causing much stress and anxiety for people worrying about their finances. The government is, thankfully, stepping up to the plate. Financial support is beginning to filter down for sick pay, salary and wage payments. Rates and tax breaks are being made available for companies, and the self-employed, throughout the UK.
Business owners need to get your contingency plans and financial forecasts urgently reviewed to keep your heads above water. Even if it’s bad news – it’s better to be upfront and honest now, so regular communication with employees is key. Keep your teams updated with the facts, or how you’re planning to cope (or not) for the foreseeable future. At least your team can then make their own plans for themselves and their families. Humans have an innate survival instinct, and normally common sense prevails.
2. Get priorities in Order
You may now be operating with a reduced team, if you’ve had to lay off and furlough workers. You will therefore need to identify and prioritise the critical path marketing and revenue generating activities.
If it’s not going to sell product or service, and generate an invoice, then ditch it (for now). Call the team together on a conference call (or 6ft apart round the table) to hear their thoughts and ideas. Carefully work through and agree with them what needs to be done, who’s responsible, and by when.
3. Find a common task management tool
If you’re not already using a task management tool, Slack, Trello & Asana all have free versions. You might be subscribing to Google, Microsoft365 etc. but not really had time to get it up and working effectively. Now is a great time to learn about it’s full functionality, and get more return on your investment. Here’s a short read blog about some software tools available, both free and paid.
4. Establish a Daily Routine
To keep people motivated establish a daily routine. A morning conference call will rally the team at the start of the day. Hold a round robin of successes from the day before, and what each persons’ daily goals are. Discuss and help them plan their daily routines for the next few weeks. Communicate your expectations so they know they’re appreciated. Make sure they recognise their work will make a positive contribution to getting through this period. Give everyone a clear focus and a sense of purpose, even if there isn’t a full days work to do. Click here to see recommended task management software
5. Encourage regular breaks
In their normal office environment, your team may not be used to sitting at a computer screen for prolonged periods. Encourage them to rest for 5 minutes every hour; to stretch, rest their eyes, grab a glass of water etc. This would be probably happen subconsciously in the office, where there are other people to interact with. But not so for remote workers, especially if the team member is home alone.
6. Parental Responsibility
Added pressure is on parents with school aged children. Schools are now closed, and children are also having to get online for lessons. This may be causing a clash on home desktops, laptops etc. Work with those staff who have parental responsibilities to ensure they have the equipment they need to do their job.
The business owner should make concessions for those with school aged children in the house. Parents will be trying to work from home whilst juggling home schooling. This may cause additional stress or anxiety if they feel they’re pushing their workload onto colleagues who have no children. Discuss this with the team and make sure everyone is pulling together to support each other, without any animosity.
YOUR NEXT STEPS TO GREATER PRODUCTIVITY
Alluxi is here to offer you support through these times of change, bringing a facts and figures approach to evolve your business and realise your goals.
As a first step towards identifying your current business challenges and evaluating where your future opportunities exist within your business, we invite you to complete the in-depth Alluxi Business Success Scorecard delving into the 10 key critical success areas.
Take 15 minutes to respond to the scorecard and get your results within minutes. You’ll have the opportunity to book a follow-up Productivity to Profit Breakthrough Session to find out how you can implement rapid and measurable improvements.
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