Despite the majority of MNCs in Vietnam encouraging people to work from home since the Covid-19 outbreak, it is still relatively new to us here. This has meant that leaders have had to get creative and learn quickly to ensure that their corporate culture doesn’t suffer.

In the office, in practical terms, it’s easier to have face-to-face meetings to discuss something, and leaders have more hands-on control. But with employees working remotely, it’s harder to measure performance, so many organizations are using technology, competency frameworks, and KPIs to analyze performance and productivity.

It’s essential to empower employees too, so at Argyll Scott, we have the I Own My Future program, which has come into its own during Covid-19, enabling everyone to tailor their job and hours to suit their needs.

From a cultural perspective, it’s also important to continue training and development online and still celebrate successes with internal awards or any incentives already in place.

On the human side, the focus has moved to safeguard employees’ mental health, with programs introduced to support those who might be struggling.

More communication is needed to keep engagement high, so many companies have introduced activities online to replace offline social events, as well as more frequent contact to make employees feel valued and heard. We have access to an app called LifeWorks that has resources for employees and people to call if they want to talk about anything.

Whether pre-, during, or post-Covid, employees want a culture where they feel that their companies care about them, pay attention to them, listen, and respect them. Empathy is vital as a leader, and however large the organization is, leaders need to show that they care.

For example, checking in with employees who are off sick or affected by Covid-19 should be frequent in today’s climate. Some organizations have introduced initiatives to support employees if they struggle financially by advancing salaries. Others might help employees physically create a home office if they don’t have a suitable working environment to perform at their best. Everyone’s needs are different, and the best employers will react accordingly.

Many people in Vietnam working in cities outside their hometowns had to relocate back home to support their families, especially those with aging parents. Remote working is crucial, but it’s important to remember that not all industries can operate like that, and many employers have had to get creative in other ways.

Empathy and care are important additions to the regulations and disciplines. Many factories have had to arrange and convert the factory into living quarters so that employees can stay and work during the lockdowns. In situations like this, leaders also need to lead by example – stay in the factory and work together with their staff and workers to maintain their corporate culture and forge a bond with their employees.

This kind of dedicated, employee-centric focus will see the best organizations, regardless of industry sector, thrive in whatever their particular “new normal” working conditions prove to be. [C]

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Tim Burrill
Membership Manager & Executive Assistant
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