Working from Home: How will you maximize the NEW Normal?

COVID Work From HomeIt’s likely that for the next 9 to 24 months, social distancing will become the standard that we will all need to learn to live by. The New Normal. What might this look like in the workplace?

Depending on what your company does, and how many of those functions work, it will be different. But no one will want to work on top of others near term if they don’t have to. Not until this virus is eradicated. Not until it’s gone!

So, companies are going to have to think differently. What are the opportunities presented by this New Normal? I’ve got a couple of ideas for you.

One is a new take on an old idea, namely “shifting.” This is where, in order to maintain more distance from coworkers by having fewer people in the office, people come and leave in shifts. Even if you’re just going to be open from nine to five, you might have some people working in the office for a half day and at home the other half. Or you might have some people come into the office on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and some come in on Tuesday and Thursday.

And while this is not possible for all staff, or all circumstances, anything that can increase productivity, while thinning out workplace congregation will help. Then social distancing at work may have a better chance of working.

Then there’s another perspective to consider:  employees, including some of your best employees, who no longer want to come to work because of fear of COVID-19. This might become a larger issue. They want to work at home as often as they can so that they can control their own social distancing requirement.

So, allow me to propose this concept: a formula for work–at–home compensation that might improve productivity – even after the threat of the virus has gone.

First, let’s take stock. Not all employees are great employees. In fact, if you follow many business theories, as I do:

  • 20% of our workforce is GREAT! True performers.
  • 60% of our workforce are at least not bad. They get the job done. You wouldn’t want to fire them, but when they say they are leaving, you say, “Ok. Best to you”, and probably replace them with someone better if the market will allow.
  • And the remaining 20% are those that you should be looking to replace anyway but are too lazy to do so.

The other insight I want to suggest, is that “full productivity” in my past experience as a business owner, is about 65%. If I can get 65% of true quality output out of an employee in a 40-hour week, that’s an employee that I made money on. Around 20% of my employees could produce north of 80%. Roughly 60% of my employees top 50%. Some 20% of my employees can seldom get to 50% productivity.

In my day, I used to always say that what we do from 9:00 – 5:00 covers our costs, and real profits were made in the time spent beyond that, time spent working beyond a 40-hour week. But your numbers are unique to your business. And how to measure some things are often impossible in a work from home situation.

So, here’s the idea:

While the average salary in America today is $56,000 (and change), for simplicity sake, let’s use $100,000 so that we all can follow along easier. Then you can apply a real salary to a real employee in your own situation.

Evaluate what they do that’s measurable and what they do that’s not. Maybe half their job is not measurable but half is. So, 20 hours a week they perform tasks that have to get done or it just backs up. They know it, and you know it. But, there’s no measurable value to it.

We all have it. But, as a business owner, we pay them to do it. Filing, going to the bathroom, cleaning off their desk, sitting in a staff meeting, reading email memo’s, catching up on company business, walk-around management / business socialization. Stuff! You can’t get around it.

So, working from home, you could thereby change their base to $50,000 (50%) to do all the non-measurable stuff.

Now, for things they do that make you money. Those tasks that, if your people could do more of, you could pay them more – in a win-win way. Get out more essential reports. Serve more customer issues. Output more revenue-generating work – or help their manager output more revenue-generating work.

For the measurable tasks, the stuff that they do for the primary part of their job half the time, pay them more per function when they output more, and less when they output less. You figure out the numbers per the situation.

The outcome: people working from home will focus more on the important work because they earn more, even while they’re still responsible for the non-measurable tasks.

You might need a few less people, because people will focus on performance-based output, and less on business socialization. Some will cry foul because now they earn less. You look at those situations, and conclude which ones you either change the formula, or change the employee. Both are worth the evaluation.

The New Normal is not going away soon. People will insist to stay out of harm’s way, or you will want your people to stay out of harm’s way. You just need to rethink compensation to make it all happen in a profitable manner.

What do you think?

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