Working in the ‘new normal’: How to ensure visibility in an uncertain world

Making the right decisions, but being flexible enough to change direction quickly if required, is difficult enough at the best of times, but it is even more tricky when everyone is working from home, says Qasim Kirmani, chief executive of Wurqi

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed the world into uncharted territory, which has led to huge uncertainty, not least in the way we work within our organisations.

Now more than ever, it is vital that senior executives are able to demonstrate they have a clear picture of what is happening inside their business. Doing so involves not only maintaining clear communication, but also setting well-defined goals, putting realistic plans in place and ensuring the entire business is fully lined up behind them, as well as having the right tools to see whether their plans are being executed properly.

It requires leaders to be able to change direction swiftly if necessary, while ensuring they take the workforce with them.

Meeting such requirements can be difficult at the best of times, but the COVID-19 crisis has magnified these challenges many times over.

The new reality of how and where we work is creating a number of pressures. It is no surprise that working from home can lead to individuals feeling more isolated, which means strong communication is more important than ever. But the impact of this situation goes deeper.

Remote working can amplify the impact siloed ways of working has on the business as cross-functional communication often suffers due to a lack of incidental, ad hoc discussions around the water cooler.

This scenario can lead to a drop in creativity and innovation. It can also generate more practical challenges as many managers are, at best, only vaguely aware of the interdependencies between different teams within the business. As a result, projects are at risk of becoming disjointed and employees  can feel disengaged, unclear how their activities fit into the bigger picture. In turn, this situation can lead to goals and objectives not being met. Promises are broken, problems go unfixed and opportunities are missed.

To overcome these challenges, particularly in a remote-working environment, it is important for managers to ensure they have visibility, predictability and control in three interconnected areas that are all too often dealt with separately: work, people and communications.

In other words, leaders need to know who is doing what and to what end, at any given point in time. They require a high degree of confidence that all activity is contributing towards the organisation’s key goals and objectives, particularly if change becomes necessary.

Also vital is an awareness of, and an ability to predict, any threats and opportunities, to take effective decisions from a position of controlled strength.

But to do so inevitably means clear goals and objectives must be set in the first place and implemented consistently across the business to ensure they are achieved successfully.

This approach ensures each employee has their own objectives to meet and is aware of both how they fit into the bigger picture and the impact of any given task on the wider portfolio of work. It also makes it easier to act on any bottlenecks and ensure other stakeholders can offer support should problems arise or additional input be required.

However, in the current world where remote working is part of the “new normal”, it is almost impossible to do this without technology. For leaders to understand what is happening and take decisions effectively, they require a flexible, easy-to-use platform offering a single, consistent, real-time view of activities across the business.

And this is exactly what Wurqi’s work management solution provides: an integrated, collaborative environment that offers a centralised view of everything relating to work, people and communications.

Being able to see who is doing what, where tasks are at and what progress has been made in what timescales provides leaders with the visibility, predictability and control they need to steady the ship and chart a successful course through today’s choppy waters. In other words, it’s about making work digital.

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