If you’re like most companies, you made many changes to your business throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. You may have adopted new tools, implemented new processes, or completely changed the way your business runs. Your workforce has likely gone fully remote—at least for a while—which requires more tools and processes to support remote employees. Whether you adopted new application performance management (APM) tools or software as a service (SaaS) solutions, you likely changed the way your business runs in a meaningful way. The digital transformation brought on by COVID-19 happened at light speed, and almost everyone cobbled together solutions to keep their businesses afloat.
With the pandemic (hopefully) coming to an end and the “next normal” on the horizon, it’s time to take a look at the tools and processes you’ve instituted throughout the crisis. Properly evaluating these new additions to your business is important—you might find that some things that made sense during the pandemic won’t be necessary when things return to normal. On the other hand, you might find video conferencing tools or collaboration software has improved your business processes so much that you want to invest more in them. Either way, it’s important to audit the changes you’ve made to ensure they still make sense for the business.
You should always be trying to improve your processes—doing so can help you improve efficiency across your business. But at the same time, you have to be careful. Replacing your time-tracking system five times in the span of a year or two, for example, can be overwhelming for the employees who have to learn the new process or system every time it’s replaced. When you decide it’s time to update your tools or processes, take some extra time to make sure you won’t have to replace it again before people even have a chance to learn the new system.
One of the ways you can do this is by making sure you have input from the people who will actually use the new tool when it comes time to adopt one. Sometimes the people who choose new tools aren’t the ones using them, and this can be frustrating for the people who have to learn a new process that might not even be helpful for them.
Whenever you’re considering adopting new tools or processes, make sure you have the right people in the room—and this means including the people who will be using them. Consider letting the people who need their tools upgraded give suggestions about new tools they’d like to use, and give them the opportunity to demonstrate how they use new tools or the ones they already have. Doing so can help make sure you implement new tools and policies that are helpful for the people who use them.
You can also improve this process by making sure you have regular times slotted out for people to test new processes, give demonstrations, and recommend new tools. You don’t want to add this responsibility on top of your employees’ normal responsibilities without blocking out some time for them to make these recommendations. And make sure it’s a welcoming environment, too; if they don’t feel comfortable making recommendations because they feel like you won’t listen to them, they aren’t going to help you improve your processes. Consider including at least one person that will use the tool on a daily basis as part of the decision-making process, so they get to test out the options every step of the way—especially if the tool is going to be customized for your business. Make sure their feedback is considered, followed up on, and responded to in a respectful manner to ensure a receptive and honest environment for that feedback.
People want to work at a company when they feel they’re supported, which is why fostering a supportive environment for employees is so important. Throughout the pandemic, vacations were canceled and family trips were abandoned. And though the end of the pandemic may be in sight, it’s important for employees to take time off when they need it—and it’s equally important for companies to continue to encourage people to take time away from work. Even if they’re not going anywhere and are just staying at home and watching movies, it’s important for employees to get a mental break. In the long run, having that break will improve their performance because they won’t be exhausted by work.
Mental health support throughout the pandemic has been great, but companies shouldn’t roll back these changes when things start to return to normal. It’s important to keep your new policies in place—and even institute more new policies—to back up your commitment to mental health support and helping employees take the time they need to maintain their mental health.
You can also support your employees in the new normal by offering things like hybrid work environments. Many people who have been working from home for the last year feel they’ve proven they can perform just as well—or even better—as they did in the office. Allowing people the flexibility to work from home for even a couple days a week will go a long way toward being a company where people want to work. And if your employees are going to continue working from home in any capacity, you should provide them with antivirus support or malware-blocking software for home devices, as they likely don’t have the same resources you have in the office.
Whether it’s through improving the tools at your disposal, reevaluating new processes, or making your employees’ lives a little easier, there are many things you can do to help make your company a place where people want to work. In the post-pandemic world, the companies who take the time to do these things now will see success in the future as things start to return to normal.