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A second wave of disruption: 5 ways to calm corporate chaos.

October 13, 2020 / United Kingdom

The phased return to offices was well underway. Until it wasn’t. With another six months of uncertainty looming, PAs face huge pressure to help facilitate as stable a working world as possible.

Tasks like managing fully or partially remote meetings, and keeping track of availability are much harder across a hybrid workforce than when working with a fully office-based team. 

And with many PAs working from home themselves, keeping calm, organised and consistent is likely challenging too. 

Here are five ways to be a calming influence, despite the chaos. 

#1 – Lead daily huddles 

Huddles are short ten- or fifteen-minute daily team meetings to align goals, share plans and check-in on one another. They’re one of the most popular agile project management methods – and right now agility is a crucial business competency.

These fast, efficient daily meetings help ensure everyone’s on the same page before launching into the day. Huddles could be a useful resource to align PA teams every morning, and to keep executives informed. 

Especially now, huddles could prove fundamental to collaboration as teams juggle WFH and hybrid working.

#2 – Introduce an attendance system 

The hybrid workforce brings new challenges in communication and cross-location collaboration. Nothing creates chaos (and stress!) faster than uncertainty.

Introducing an attendance system with team-wide, or even company-wide, availability would help dissolve that uncertainty. 

For example, a third of employees feel their manager’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been less than effective – and unavailability is frequently cited as an issue.  

When working from home, availability is less obvious because there aren’t the same cues as in the physical office (someone being at their desk; being on the phone; etc). Increasing visibility could make a huge difference. 

#3 – Champion internal dialogue  

We’ve talked before about how PAs can become distributed community advocates, connecting team members with the resources to thrive. 

As people in-the-know, PAs are uniquely positioned to add value in that central connecting role. Personal assistants working from home even more so, because the usual centre of work – the office – is fragmented and unstable.

The normal interaction moments – passing colleagues on the stairs, in the kitchen, in the lift – aren’t happening, or are disrupted. The result is, a third of UK workers feel disconnected from colleagues and company culture.

PAs can help ease those feelings by championing proactive dialogue. That might be sending a quick team-wide summary email to close-off each day, for example. Or sending a quick note connecting two employees who could help each other. 

PAs must be facilitators, especially now. 

#4 – Organise shared experiences

Disintegration of company culture is a very real threat on most businesses’ horizon. PAs can be instrumental in re-instilling and cementing culture by bringing people together, even when they’re physically distant.

Especially since 93% of UK employees are facing new wellbeing challenges – loneliness could too-easily become the next pandemic.  

The social elements of the workplace are crucial. Shared experiences can increase bonding, protect culture and improve individual and organisational resilience. 

That might look like organising social events like a team evening meal, for example (adapted to the current situation by ordering individual food for everyone, whether they’re working from home or the office). 

Or ordering lunchtime frozen yoghurts on a hot day (the same applies – if you treat office-based workers and home workers differently, you risk exacerbating divisions rather than healing them.)
Building these sorts of flexible food programs is easy with enabling technology to simplify creating policies, controlling costs and handling expenses.

#5 – Protect your own mental health  

You can’t pour from an empty cup. Being a PA is high-pressured anyway – and right now, PAs navigating hybrid and fully WFH workforces are under extraordinary pressure.  

Championing an atmosphere of positivity and calm is only possible when you’re coming from a place of positivity and calm yourself. Don’t feel guilty for looking after yourself – by doing so, you’re actually looking after the business.

Ongoing uncertainty about the return to the office brings all-new challenges and pressures – but it’s also a huge opportunity to discover better ways to work together. PAs are perfectly positioned to lead the charge, helping everyone stay focussed, united and on-track.

This blog is part of The team that Eats together initiative, a content series exploring what normal looks like now, and how to enhance the working world to meet evolved employee expectations.

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The views and opinions expressed are based on the research conducted and they do not intend to present an official policy of Uber or any of its subsidiaries. Examples of advice mentioned in this article are based on open source information and assumptions made within the article are not reflective of Uber’s position.