Collaborative Activity and Individual Report
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LTR- the Luton town residences is a housing association having four housing blocks across Luton at different locations. The organization operates with 66 members, having a mission of providing suitable housing solutions to people of the local community. The focus/target of LTR is to support and assist vulnerable individuals by providing housing solutions (Case Study 2020).
This report will be an analysis of a case study based on LTR. The report will identify the impact of COVID-19 on the company and its operations. The key issues in the company regarding remote working, the use of technology, and employee motivation will be reviewed. The issues will also represent challenges faced by LTR due to the pandemic in a wider context. Recommendations to resolve these issues and to deal with the changes company had to make in the organization due to pandemic effects will be included in the report as well.
Impact of Covid-19- the Pandemic on the Luton town residence (LTR)
The pandemic has negatively impacted Luton Town residences. The day-to-day operations of the company got disrupted due to the pandemic and decisions taken by the government at the time of the Pandemic. COVID-19 has developed a threat to LTR regarding the safety of their employees due to which the director of the organization had to decide on declaring work from home for everyone. Due to the Pandemic, the government had declared a national lockdown which has caused many issues. As the work from home had been declared by the MD of Luton town residences, one of the major challenges was to manage the remote working of the whole staff. Some staff members who had to work on the site could not work from home due to the work requirements (Cast Study, 2020). Another challenge for LTR has been to manage the security and safety of employees who had to work on sites.
The pandemic has affected different teams of Luton town residences so much. Some of these include general Administration staff, the finance team, the senior management team, and the customer service, team. The pandemic has affected these teams in a way that these people had to work remotely which means work from home. On the other hand, the housing personal coaches and facilities management team had to work most of the time on sites. Only on some days, they could work remotely.
The tools which LTR uses for communication and collaboration have also been impacted negatively due to the Pandemic (Kurotschka et al, 2021). It is because earlier, all the staff members used work from office and on-sites when they used to use newsletters and e-mails to communicate. They used to send daily reminders to the staff members while working from the office. After the pandemic, the communication has been adversely affected because the staff members were far from each other. So, the existing communication tools were found as not very effective in the Covid times. During the Pandemic times, the customer support team was affected destructively because they were not getting enough responses on the e-mails, they have sent to other teams in the organization which ultimately has led to a long waiting time for the residents.
There has been another side of the pandemic effects as well. Some of the employees have felt that the remote working decision which has been taken due to the pandemic has been good for them. It is because they found remote working easier and more flexible (Hunter 2019). These were the employees who have been living with their families. They have felt that pandemic has allowed them to spend time with their families even on the working days. It is because previously, they had fixed and strict office hours but while working from home, this is not the case. They have found remote working as a means to balance their work-life balance with which they are very happy. Also, the employees who have been working from outside Luton have appreciated the effects of Pandemic because now they do not have to drive so long just to come to the office for work.
Key Issues present at LTR
The employees of LTR have been facing many issues after the negative effects of the Pandemic on the organization. To discuss these issues, the senior management of Luton town residence has decided to have an all-company town-hall meeting. In the meeting, the issues discussed include frustrated employees because of working from home, collaboration and communication problems among the teams, decreasing motivation level, etc. The detailed description of identified key issues is as follows:
One of the major issues faced by the organization has been identified as the remote working of the staff members. This decision was taken by the Managing director (MD) of Luton town residence when the Pandemic has hit the organization negatively. The decision of MD regarding remote working has also been discussed in the previous section- the pandemic effects on LTR. So, because of the high safety and security threats, the employees of LTR had to switch to remote working which has been identified as an issue by the time (Michalak and Rysavy, 2020).
In the town-hall meeting of LTR employees, it has been identified that they have been frustrated while working remotely. The staff members of different teams, especially the general administration team have been very unhappy and frustrated because they have to be available 24*7 on e-mails which have ruined their whole schedule. Due to the pandemic effects, the general administration staff has been facing overloaded e-mails which they have found unmanageable by working remotely.
The customer service team has also felt this issue of having loads of work because of remote working (Ingusci et al, 2021). The team has complained that the pandemic has affected their work in a way that instead of resolving customer problems, their time has been getting wasted on finding out information from excel sheets, word files shared by other departments.
While working remotely, one of the issues found by all teams was experiencing fatigue and laziness because of not having much interaction. The teams have been interacting with each other via zoom meetings to discuss everything. Firstly, these meetings have taken a long time which has disturbed the schedule of employees. Also, it has made them lazy because, at these meetings, they do not dress up, have the motivation, etc. The video-conferencing has made the employees not willing to discuss things at all.
While working remotely, one of the reasons staff members being unhappy was that they had to use their devices for office work. Before the pandemic, when the staff members used to work from the office, they used to use office computers to do their work, to communicate with each other. But due to the adverse effects of the pandemic, the employees had to switch to remote working which has created the issue for them to work with their devices. As the employees had to suddenly switch to remote working, they could not have the facility of getting office devices at their homes (Vatharkar 2021). This has made them unhappy because they have been facing inconsistency in work due to this issue. Sometimes, they could not log in on time, communicate on time, share files when required.
Some staff members have been complaining about having no motivation left for work. The staff members have discussed that some of them have been stuck alone at places due to the pandemic. Some of them were staying with their flatmates, away from their families, this situation of isolation has made them feel de-motivated. Due to the pandemic, the employees have not been able to be in social touch which has led to more loneliness, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues (Liberati et al, 2021). In all this, the motivation to work has been lost somewhere in the negativity of the effects of the pandemic. The employees of the finance department have raised this issue of feeling loneliness and no motivation while working from home.
The motivation level of employees has been decreasing because of their poor mental state. The uncertainty of the situation after the pandemic has hit the world has been affecting them adversely. They do not know when they would be able to go to the office when they would be able to again connect socially with their team members. There is no guarantee or certainty of things becoming normal which has caused so much stress among the employees (Nienhuis and Lesser, 2020). While working from home, not just the work motivation level has been dropped drastically, but the motivation to do other day-to-day life things has also been diminishing.
The staff members from different teams agreed that they have been facing the same issue. The employees have complained about facing difficulties to motivate themselves to open e-mails every morning to communicate with the customers. The occasional phone calls have also been difficult to attend to and resolve the queries of clients. Some employees have shared that they have been feeling that their living room is their office as well which has made them feel lonely and unhappy (Wang et al, 2021). Getting motivation from within while being stuck at home alone has been the worst experience for employees as they have discussed in the all-town hall meeting of LTR.
Collaboration and Communication issues
The team members, especially the facilities management team have pointed out this issue of not being able to communicate effectively with the existing communication tool of the company i.e., e-mails. The team has realized that while working remotely due to Covid-19, the team has not been able to communicate work issues via e-mails. Also, they have not been able to deliver the repair requests on e-mails regarding the management of various facilities regarding work. This is why communicating with e-mails has become an issue after the hit of Covid-19.
As per the senior management team, the e-mails now seem like a poor communication and collaboration tool. Especially, to check the operational status of on-going housing projects of the company, they found e-mails not working for their communication after the pandemic.
The Finance team has also felt issues in communicating and collaborating via e-mails. The team has complained that while working from home, their information requests which they have sent over e-mails either remain unanswered or get answered after a long period. The zoom meetings organized for team collaboration have been proved ineffective to resolve collaboration and communication issues (Hutchings and Ridder, 2020).
Some of the staff members were facing communication difficulties no because of the channels but they have been facing the issue because of the poor network at their homes, low internet connection, etc. (Davies 2021). Some of the staff members had to purchase high-quality internet connections on their expenses. It was because they were not able to access the online meetings with their existing internet connection. Also, with the existing poor internet connection, some of the employees have not been able to deliver the work on time. To avoid delays in work and to connect with other team members, the employees needed to purchase a high-quality internet pack.
- New communication platforms: It is recommended for Luton town residence to introduce new communication platforms. Instead of using just e-mails, the organization is recommended to use more effective tools for communication for both operational and informal communication in the organization. Recommending the adaptation of new communication platforms for LTR means they have to have a channel with which the need for urgent communication can be addressed. Also, the new communication channels should ensure the prioritization of communication effectively and fast. The recommended tool to communicate is to have a customized application for LTR only with which the staff members can communicate and collaborate, share necessary information with having high security on it. The organization should use the topmost technology to develop the new communication tools (Choudhary 2020). With this, remote working would be easier for the employees.
- Training and Development: LTR is recommended to organize a training and development program for their employees to get adjusted with the new communication channels the organization will adopt. Also, it is recommended for them to train the staff to fight the challenges of Covid-19. The staff should also need to get training sessions from senior management to understand how can they improve while working remotely (Agrawal et al, 2020). LTR is recommended to organize these sessions currently online and later on when everything will get back to normal, the organization should organize consistent offline training sessions at the office.
- More mental health initiatives and programs- As the staff members have been struggling to be motivated to work from home and with this, their mental health is getting affected, the company is recommended to take mental health initiatives for them. To understand the state of mind of the staff members and to track their activities consistently, Luton town residence is recommended to use some mental health tracking tools. Improving mental health will allow motivating the employees to be loyal to the company (Groysberg and Abrahams, 2020).
This report concludes that the Luton town residence has been facing lots of issues and challenges due to the hit of the Pandemic. The report has identified that the pandemic has affected LTR negatively because everything got messed up and considering the security of employees, some strict decisions had to be taken by the managing director of the company. It has been identified with the report that the key issues raised due to Covid-19 by the staff members of LTR have included remote working, low motivation level while working from home, and issues in communication and collaboration. Some recommendations have been given to Luton town residence which includes implementing new ways of communication in the organization, providing enough training to the staff members, and taking initiatives to resolve the mental health issues.
This assignment has allowed us to realize the experience with this knowledge base assessment. We have done this assignment in a group and we worked over the Knowledge-based document by putting in collective efforts to complete the assignment. The assignment has been completed by reviewing the main case study about Luton town residence. Also, we all have viewed different articles which have allowed us to understand the challenges and issues pandemic has created for organizations, especially for LTS on which the case study was based.
The assessment has allowed me individually and in a group to develop an understanding of the effects of the pandemic, the key organizational issues at the time of the pandemic, and the potential solutions to the identified challenges. The experiences from this assignment, the activities are done individually and in the group, gained skills and learning abilities can be understood in detail with the help of Gibbs reflective model/cycle.
Gibbs reflective model
The Gibbs reflective cycle is a model which was given by Graham Gibbs in 1988 (Toolshero 2020). The model can be called a reflection model and is useful to describe my experience and our whole group experience of the knowledge base assignment. The Gibbs Reflective cycle includes six different stages through which the experience can be described. At each stage of the model/cycle, there needs to be a certain number of questions that we had to answer to realize what exactly our experience of the assignment was.
The six stages of the cycle with which our experience of the knowledge base assessment can be explored are:
The first stage is all about the basics of what has happened with us and for this, we have answered different questions regarding what and how has happened (Adeani, Febriani and Syafryadin, 2020). So, as a group, we all have worked upon the knowledge base assignment and provided our efforts. All the group members were equally involved in the assignment because we all have read the case study on Luton town residence. We have seen the result of our efforts as the successful completion of the assessment.
This stage is there to identify the feelings and thoughts at that particular moment, the activity, or the situation (Tanaka, Okamoto and Koide, 2018). Talking about my personal feelings, I was very anxious at the beginning of an assignment. I was scared that whether I would be able to put in efforts properly or not but as time moved on, I was getting comfortable with learning new things by putting in efforts to complete the assessment. When I look back at the situation, I see myself discussing different things with other group members, researching about the same, learning new things which I would be able to use in my future very well. I think other group members have also had a good experience with this group assessment.
This stage is all about finding out the experience from different activities that whether the experience was good or bad (Pitts 2021). For me, reading and understanding the case study was a good experience as I have learned about key issues and challenges of the pandemic for LTR. The best activity of research was to review the case study for me. The part of the assignment which did not go so well for me was the information-sharing part. It was because all the group members were not together. Other people, as per my opinion have given their best in research and writing both.
This stage of the Gibbs cycle is all about the learnings from the situation, the activities. Analyzing the learnings helps to handle similar situations in the future (Dressler et al, 2018). My major learnings from the knowledge base assessment we have done were that remote working becomes a challenge if the organization does not deal with it well. But if it is handled well, it can be beneficial for both the organization and the employees. With this assessment, I feel that my ability to observe and communicate, skills in research, and writing have been improved. These I can use in my future while writing my research paper. Also, the learnings about remote working, employee motivation, communication, and collaboration I have learned about, I would be able to use these practically in my future workplace.
The only part where I feel we could have done better was the communication among all the team members. We could achieve better results if we all have been together throughout the assessment. I feel that most of the experiences I have from this assessment were positive. The only negative thing was not having very effective communication among group members.
Stage-6: Action Plan
I feel that I would use my learnings definitely in my future workplace. Also, in the near future, I will keep in mind that whenever I would be in any group assessment, I will try my best to keep the communication effective among the group members. I have realized the need for consistent communication among group members which was somewhere missing this time. So, for my future assignments, I will keep this in mind and discuss openly it with my group members.
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