In response to the uncertainties presented by COVID-19, many golf courses are closing and asking employees to work remotely to combat the spread of the virus. While foregoing the commute and working from home in your sweats may sound ideal, it can bring along some concerns that can impact employee productivity and wellbeing.
Remote Work Challenges
One of the biggest downsides employees may experience when working from home is the feeling of loneliness. Many will miss the interaction with coworkers and customers that they have when they’re at the course. And extroverted employees may find it even more difficult, especially if the recommendation of social distancing lasts longer than expected. Isolation has the potential to hurt employee engagement as well as collaboration and sense of camaraderie.
Working from home can offer several comforts, like hanging out on the couch, but it’s riddled with distractions, too. First, employees may not have dedicated workspaces at home, which means they’re making due in an area of the house not meant to facilitate work. Then there’s the temptation of the television. Employees who are parents will likely have the added responsibility of taking care of their children. Under normal circumstances it can be hard enough to juggle work and family, but when schools are closed, parents also have to entertain kids and make sure they’re keeping up with their studies.
When everyone is working remotely, everyday communication can become trickier. Tracking down answers, for example, will often take more time and effort when you’re not in immediate proximity to each other. And with the added distractions or responsibilities, coworkers may not be on the same schedules. Getting a consensus on the best form of communication, such as email, text, phone or a platform like Slack, may involve an adjustment period.
How To Stay Productive
Work With a Friend
Sometimes coworkers, especially those who like to talk, can hurt your work output and working solo may boost your productivity—for a while. When the feeling of social isolation kicks in, however, having a colleague or friend to reach out to can provide welcome interaction. As a manager, consider scheduling regular conference calls or video chats to make up for the missed water-cooler talk. You can use the time to talk about work and its new challenges or concerns, or simply check in to make sure everyone is handling the new working situation well.
Create An Effective Workspace
Unfortunately, health experts can’t predict how long the recommendation of social distancing will last. As comfortable as it may be, the couch isn’t a good long-term solution, and it could be a good idea to create a dedicated work spot in your home. If you have a spare bedroom, consider setting it up as a home office. If you don’t, repurpose another area, such as a dining room table or corner of the bedroom, into a space only used for work. Separating work activities from leisure can give you the downtime you need to boost your mental wellbeing.
Email and other digital tools can be effective, but they shouldn’t replace voice or face-to-face communicating. Tone can be lost in written communication, and taking time to speak in person can eliminate the chance that things are lost in translation. Check in with the members of your team by phone every few days. Or take advantage of free video chat tools, such as Zoom and Google Hangouts. You could host a weekly coffee chat or Happy Hour. Extra communication during this time of remote work can help maintain or even strengthen relationships between colleagues.
Tasks Golf Operators Can Work On From Home
Optimize Your Online Presence
While your course may be closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, your customers may be going online to solve their boredom and anticipate the start of the season, however delayed it may be. This means you may see higher traffic to your website. Use the time you’re not spending at the course to explore the advantages of ecommerce and add the ability to purchase products on your site. If you’re already online, use the time to create marketing strategies, such as email campaigns, and optimize your social media platforms. You’ll give customers something to look forward to, as well as a welcome distraction from the news of the virus.
Develop Strong Management Strategies
The slowdown in business can give you the breather you may need to step back and evaluate your golf course operations. For example, you might consider creating a customer loyalty program or adding online reservations that can be up and running when your course reopens. Also refresh your management tools and skills. For example, review and update your employee handbook or develop employee incentive or training programs. Often, these types of projects get lost when the golf season is at its height.
Analyze Your Golf Course Performance
Finally, get a handle on your golf course performance. Analyzing data can be an overwhelming and time-consuming task, but insights from golf management software can give you business intelligence that will help you make better decisions when your golf course reopens. Take this time to review reports, such as customer activity, tee time occupancy and pro shop and restaurant sales. Having tools in place can give you the relevant information you need to run your golf course and make choices based on real information, such as where to invest your time and resources when you reopen.
While you may be worried about how your golf course will recover from unplanned downtime, remember that employees are worried, too. Not everyone wants to work from home and some may be worried about the fate of their jobs. It’s a stressful time, indeed. As golf courses increasingly mandate that many employees must work from home during the coronavirus outbreak, do what you can to support your staff and be proactive as to what tasks and projects can be done from home. Your investment today can create a stronger course tomorrow.