Supporting your field force during Covid-19

As we move into another week in isolation and coronavirus (COVID-19) evolves, we are all continually adapting to a different way of doing things.

For many people, working from home, and interacting with colleagues who are also at home full time, is not something that they have done before on an ongoing basis.

There are both challenges and opportunities as we face a different way of working for a period. For those of us who have not worked remotely before, it is a good opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t, and what a remote workforce really looks like. For employers it is also an opportunity to be creative about ensuring everyone in the team stays connected.

It is important to remember that many of the new ways of working and insights we learn during this period will be enormously valuable once the lockdown begins to lift and we find a new normal. Many employers will also discover new skills in employees who step up to help in ways outside their core roles. I was speaking to a friend last week who said that in her organization there needed to be an increased focus on internal communications with a large workforce at home, and a team member had stepped up to help in this area, transferring their skills from one department to another.

When managing sales teams, there is the additional challenge around maintaining the motivation of a field force who have now been removed from what was the fundamental part of their role - face to face communications with their customers. They were previously able to clearly measure their success by the customers seen, territory sales & growth, a full diary of appointments & activities etc. That structure and routine has now changed for them, bringing a level of anxiety. It is important to let everyone know that this unease is understandable and completely normal, and also to create ways in which field force feel they are successful at the end of each day/week.

Working from home and setting up a work life balance and a new routine is a big change to incorporate into our lives if not having to be done in the past. It’s a tricky one but one that may help give us all a sense of purpose and control back, in the crazy time we are in.

There are numerous advantages to working from home, and certainly prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, many people were proactively seeking to work remotely for work/life balance. But there are many challenges, too, such as staying focused and doing your best work.

Tips to help may be:

  • Find ways to motivate yourself to work positively and productively. Highlight things that will likely distract you, and take steps to deal with them. Set up a workspace that's comfortable and appropriate for your job, and do everything you can to limit interruptions.
  • Organize your day as clearly as you would at the office, including allowing yourself breaks. Maximize your time by creating To-Do Lists, and by managing the distractions of home life.
  • Keep the lines of communication open between you and your team and other team members, but also make it clear when you don't want to be disturbed.
  • Doing too much at home can be as problematic as doing too little! So, create "no-go" zones for work devices, take regular breaks, and have a door that you can shut on your work at the end of the day.

Please look after yourselves, your family and each other. Change is a given in life, and these times are difficult, particularly for those of us who take more time to adapt. We will get through this, hopefully with a deeper understanding of ourselves, and each other.

- Wendy

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