COVID-19 has shifted the way most peoples’ everyday lives operate. As social distancing and isolation become more necessary with each day, working from home has also become mandatory for some companies. This is a difficult time for everyone, so companies must take steps to support their employees as efficiently as possible.
Working from home brings various challenges. A lack of work-life balance, lack of communication, social isolation and distractions can all contribute to the setbacks employees may face during this time. These issues can grow worse with stress and anxiety already running high. However, employers can ease the transition and support employees with the following tips.
1. Allow Flexibility
As lockdown and quarantines sweep the nation, schools, childcare facilities and assisted living facilities have closed or limited their services. These shutdowns leave some individuals to care for children and elders while trying to balance work, which can be a job on its own.
Employers should make sure they allow certain amounts of flexibility. This concept can come in many forms, from allowing workers to choose their starting and ending times to rearranging project management and delegation.
With more choice in their work shifts, employees can properly balance responsibilities in their personal lives while completing work tasks productively.
2. Provide Online Tools
Transitioning to remote work will require virtual tools and platforms. These can boost communication and collaboration during a time when many people are disconnected.
Tools like Google Drive can foster a collaborative working environment. This system offers platforms for documents, spreadsheets and direct messaging on top of its traditional email program. With others, Zoom is becoming popular for video conferencing.
Productivity tracking apps like Airtable or Asana can help employees stay on top of work. These are examples of a company knowledge base, which will be monumental for working from home. These tools are essential for supporting workers with task completion during this time.
3. Encourage Virtual Socialising
Though working from home has productivity benefits, social distancing can cause loneliness and other negative mental health issues. Part of this loneliness can come from the lack of workplace interactions.
People enjoy and grow used to their co-workers’ presence. Tools like Zoom or Skype can introduce those interactions to a remote dynamic. With more socialisation, this switch to sudden isolation may not be as stressful for some.
Employers can encourage this dynamic and help employees schedule some time for conferences. Making them fun and enjoyable can improve one’s outlook on the situation — people are starting to hold virtual happy hours with their friends or co-workers.
4. Provide Resources
The coronavirus has caused uncertainty for all. Some people will need support wherever they can find it. The workplace can step in as a location to find those resources, which can come in many varieties — whether it’s counselling, podcasts, online programs or apps.
Some people might need advice regarding different aspects of their life: be it coping with family problems while working from home, insurance coverage (in this case, it is better to refer them to resources like PolicyScout), or their worries about savings for future during the crisis. As an employer, your task is to create a healthy and positive environment in these challenging times.
Employers can also encourage healthy behaviours. Reminders to take breaks or brief walks can get employees out and about for fresh air. And classes for improved mind-body connection can enable them to de-stress and bring regularity back into their lives.
Different people will find various tools useful. So, it’s essential to provide as many resources as possible for healthy coping and emotional management.
5. Communicate With Your Employees
Communication is one of the most crucial factors of any relationship dynamic. During this crisis, it is especially critical. The pandemic has disconnected people from their loved ones, everyday errands and hobbies. When transitioning to remote working, companies should foster an environment for proper communication amongst all staff.
Doing this could manifest in numerous forms. Employers can hold conference calls with employees. These could be one-on-one or in teams, and they let managers and supervisors check in to see how their workers are doing, work-wise and personally.
Communication platforms are necessary, too. Email is the foundation of most workplace interaction, but calling, video conferencing and direct messaging are also crucial. With proper communication, everyone within the virtual workplace can check in on each other.
Helping Your Workers Feel Appreciated
The tips above all work to create a safe working environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although each day remains uncertain, you can support your employees through it and help them understand they aren’t alone in this crisis.