17/03/20

COVID-19: How Opyl is implementing WFH approach

With the growing impact of COVID-19, we decided to fully implement Work From Home (WFH) practices on the 14th of March.

With the growing impact of COVID-19, we decided to fully implement Work From Home (WFH) practices on the 14th of March. As Opyl works exclusively in healthcare and wellness, and many in our team were clinicians or researchers before moving into digital marketing, we have the skills to ascertain what information is more trustworthy than others and can understand more complex reports coming from experts and agencies, helping us to make informed decisions - such as this one. Our commitment right now is to do our part in supporting community health and slowing the spread of COVID-19, whilst maintaining the health of our team and ensuring uninterrupted service to our clients.

Opyl is fortunate in that we have always enjoyed effective WFH practices and culture, so the WFH shift that COVID-19 has forced upon many is more ‘business as usual’ for us than for most. In our experience, working from home has many advantages but we should also recognise it has significant disadvantages and these vary from business to business, sector to sector and role to role.

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The pros and the cons of WFH

It’s vital that the leadership team establishes clear short term goals, rhythms of regular communication, collaborative tools and metrics to ensure that work is being delivered, and employees and clients feel supported [1]. Research has found that employees who have the option to work from home are more productive in completing work as they are more intrinsically motivated [2]. This is because employees put more effort into their work as they feel trusted with the greater autonomy that comes from working remotely [2]. Moreso, time is more efficiently used as individuals can spend what was commuting time engaging in work activities instead [3]. Furthermore, working from home means employees who do use public transport to commute to work are able to avoid this, thus reducing potential exposure to some infectious diseases, such as COVID-19 and minimising time off due to illness.

However, there are a few disadvantages when it comes to the WFH approach. One of the main issues with working from home is the lack of trust and the “perception” of productivity. Research has found that many managers feel more comfortable when they can witness their employees at work first-hand [3]. However, this can be mitigated by setting goals and working with shared digital collaborative tools. This enables employers to identify if work is being completed and on time, while providing feedback and direction regardless of the physicality of location.

Another common issue when employees work from home is finding work-life balance. Although the work from home approach allows many employees to find a better work-life balance, for some it can make it far more difficult. When there isn’t a clear separation between work and home, some employees can find themselves not taking needed breaks, having unstructured start and finishing times, and surrounded by distractions or a space that is not conducive to home-based work [3]. The stress of not being adequately connected with team members, or not having clear direction or remote support from leadership can leave many feeling isolated, exhausted and insecure about their ongoing employment.

At Opyl, we are adept at implementing work from home practices as we have been doing it for the past five years. All of our team have reliable access to the internet and the technical skills to operate and troubleshoot software remotely, whilst having established a trusting, open and communicative environment and culture. We have a range of digital tools that we utilise to ensure that we are constantly connected and are able to efficiently and effectively collaborate from any destination. Some of our team love working from home and find it productive, whereas others find it a challenge. Up until now at Opyl, we have been able to self-select when and how we want to work from home, but faced with COVID-19 social distancing and isolating directives, we are all embracing the connected working life.

Digital tools of the WFH trade

When communicating with our clients, we use conferencing tools such as Zoom, emails and our phones. Zoom enables our team to still hold meetings, workshops and work collaboratively with our clients and each other, albeit virtually.

While internally, our team at Opyl use tools such as Microsoft Teams, Nuvi, Google Docs, Canva, Trello and Toggl to share work, stay connected, hold employee meetings, track our inputs and more. Microsoft Teams allows us to not only chat and have discussions but provides a platform in which we can collaborate by sharing our screens and editing documents together. Other platforms such as Google Docs, Nuvi and Canva also enable us to share content and work together effectively online, as all our work stays in designated destinations and is clearly version controlled and saved to a shared drive.

Furthermore, Trello and Toggl play an important part in tracking productivity when working from home or in the office. Trello is a general collaborative project management tool where we can see what everyone is working on and assign tasks to each other, while Toggl is a time tracker to ensure that all client or project work is being recorded and that we have visibility and insight into resource allocation to jobs.

Digital is the new normal

COVID-19 is throwing many businesses, large and small, into embracing digital transformation- whether they are ready or not. As a new generation digital company, Opyl’s shift to a more virtual and remote working environment is a simple extension of what we already practise. We foresee no interruption to our service delivery and continued development as a service business. In fact, we see some significant advantages at this time as we help our current clients accelerate their proficiency in using social media to support sales, market research, sector engagement, collaboration and news flow, while we field an increase in enquiries from new clients who are now ready to explore the role of social media. For many businesses and employees, enforced digital transformation will be a very challenging time, for others it will be an opportunity.

As Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

To learn more about COVID-19 and how you can take part in limiting the spread, you can visit: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen

Written by Abbey Hargreaves


References:

[1] Kruse K. Top 10 Benefits of Working From Home (Survey Results). Forbes, [Internet]. 2012 Dec 18 [cited 2020 Mar 16]. Available from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2012/12/18/benefits-working-from-home/#6825a6691d4c

[2] Rupietta K, Beckmann M. Working from Home. Schmalenbach Business Review [Internet]. 2017 Dec [cited 2020 Mar 16];70(1):25-55. Available from: https://www.springerprofessional.de/en/working-from-home/15291202

[3] Farideh Church N. Gauging Perceived Benefits from 'Working from Home' as a Job Benefit. International Journal of Business and Economic Development (IJBED) [Internet]. 2015 Nov [cited 16 March 2020];3(3). Available from: https://ijbed.org/cdn/articlefile/content80934_18-02-25-11-43-47.pdf