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Project Delivery in a Covid/Post-Covid World
Written By: Keerthana Venkatesan

“If you build it, they will come,” is one of the quintessential quotes from film history.

While it seems like a stretch to compare Field of Dreams with the global pandemic, it is true that many times adversity spearheads innovation.

For many, a post-COVID world was much like Pandora’s Box. Short term, the idea of being at home with your family seemed attractive… But now, over a year in the metaphorical trenches, a ‘Work from Home Lifestyle’ has created many unanticipated consequences.

No Boundaries. COVID blurred the lines of work and life “balance.” The question of availability seems up to negotiation. Whether it be a meeting during what would ordinarily be lunch — or working unauthorized hours during a national holiday — it has become increasingly difficult to set boundaries. In many respects, people behave as if you’re on their schedule, available all hours to accommodate their needs. International client wants to meet at 3am sharp? Better make yourself available or risk the competition swooping in and taking over in your absence.

Difficulty with Focus. Most employees do not have a “defined workspace” at home and have been struggling to establish a space where they can work comfortably. House and apartment size varies. Some may have selected a smaller, more affordable unit knowing that they’d spend most of their time in-office. Amidst this pandemic, many children are sent home and relatives have moved in. It’s harder than ever before to stay on task.

Stress, Stress, and More Stress. Home alone with the kids 24/7 is difficult enough… now imagine being responsible for maintaining their virtual schedule. Normally, an in-person teacher would be there to help. It could easily have been 20 years since even opening a textbook. Imagine how difficult it must be to manage their academic success along with your current workload and everything else. On top of it, some coworkers may be out sick, and you must pick up the slack. It goes without saying that the pandemic has spread time, finances, and energy thinner than anyone ever thought was possible.

Anxiety, off the Charts. The pandemic is no joke. It’s unfathomable to keep your emotions in check after finding out that perhaps your friends, family and coworkers have been hit with the virus. The anticipation of things going south is equally as difficult to manage. Somehow, you’re left to ponder what life will look like if something happens to those who matter most.

Whose Who’s Training Whom? If you want your enterprise to continue the path of success, it is vital that you steadily continue to build your workforce. A large component of a successful training regimen is to have seasoned employees instruct and guide the next generation of leaders, in person. Historically, this occurs in-person, allowing for ample opportunity to address challenges in real-time, or generate productive brainstorms. In a post-COVID world, however, it’s extremely challenging to find compelling, virtual ways to motivate and instruct your trainees. What’s to say they are self-disciplined enough to complete at the at home course, in lieu of a more hands-on experience?

Plateaued Team Bonding. A successful business recognizes the innate value of having a “team” mindset at the workplace. This cultural “at home” shift has been counterproductive in unifying the teams and departments. Typically, existing projects help organically fuel team bonding. Employees get to know each other outside of a corporate environment and learn to rely on one another. Closeness opens the opportunity for teammates to help those struggling, offering knowledge, experience, and insight to support them. COVID has thwarted those efforts and benefits in a traditional way, completely.

The Integrity of Talent. The last year plus has accelerated the adoption of online assessments be it through phone & video interviews or online tests and assignments to evaluate skills and fit. Proctored tests, for example, have become increasingly difficult to assess. Now the process has become vulnerable to fake profiles, fake interviews, and skill assessments. This challenge invites the opportunity to rethink and reinvent the wheel, to ensure the integrity of the industry’s talent will not be jeopardized. Afterall, an enterprise is only as strong as its weakest link.

Sickness is a Harsh Reality. With the increase in the number of COVID cases — and each state and country adopting different policies to combat the threat — it’s inevitable that there will be devastation and infection which affects to varying degrees. COVID, stress, lack of appropriate space to operate, and the increased pressure to work as ‘business usual’ will undoubtably create more sickness among the worker population.

How do we set our employees up for success? How do we help our employees manage their anxiety? Are there any programs can we bring in to help? Would psychologists and counselors make a huge impact on their mindset and quality of life?

It is more important than ever for business leaders to emphasize their dedication to the livelihood of their employees. An open flow of communication is ideal to supporting your teams and employees. It is important to validate their feelings and their struggles, and work with them to orchestrate the most impactful outcomes and solutions.

Promote a culture that exercises compassion toward employees and their loved ones. Create flexible work schedules or even consider adopting hybrid training modules to help trainees better adjust. This may look like biweekly knowledge sharing sessions or perhaps, grabbing a coffee during the interim of the workday. Offer psychologist sessions to create awareness about mental health, thereby promoting a self-care and growth mindset.

Advocate for your employees and teammates by making leadership decisions that take their needs and mental health into consideration. Find opportunities to show appreciation. Create a positive work environment. Conduct business in a post-COVID world that honors, respects and prioritizes your employees and teams.

The Systech Solutions, Inc. Blog Series is designed to showcase ongoing innovations in the data and analytics space. If you have any suggestions for an upcoming article, or would like to volunteer to be interviewed, please contact Olivia Klayman at oliviak@systechusa.com.

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