The current pandemic has turned all our lives upside down and few businesses could have ever prepared themselves for what we are experiencing. Our day-to-day lives have been completely uprooted and we are all having to quickly adapt to what’s going on. The most obvious change for many of us is the ever-growing number of staff members now working from home. We all know the importance of remote working and it will benefit us hugely once Coronavirus begins to subside. However, that doesn’t mean it is always easy for anyone to adapt to this new working day. Even staff who are used to working from home are not used to this way of working. Not only do they spend their working day in their homes, but their evenings and weekends as well. As an employer or manager, it is crucial you help guide your staff through this time. We aren’t just looking to keep staff motivated and ensure a good workflow, but employee mental health can easily be impacted during this time. We should always be looking after the mental health of our staff, after all, happy employees are the base for a successful company.
1. Communication is Essential
Personal relationships rely on communication and work relationships are no different. It is the key element to keep your business running smoothly during quarantine and making sure everybody is as satisfied as possible with the situation. Video calls can help maintain a sense of normality, something everybody is longing for right now, and keeps everyone in a routine. These chats will make it easier to set defined goals for the days and weeks ahead, and give an open space for queries and to bounce ideas off each other. Open the floor to discussions about what is and isn’t working well so you can nip any problems in the bud. Over the years, we all form close bonds with who we work with. Staff spend most of their waking day with colleagues and it is important to keep these relationships up. Just because they are on a work video call, it doesn’t mean all the chatter needs to be work-related. What manager can honestly say that every conversation in the workplace was work-related? So why should it be any different now? A friendly face and an interesting conversation can make a world of difference to those around us. Especially for those who live alone, social interaction is necessary for good mental health and it can also be a good opportunity to let anyone flag issues they may be having. At this point, you may be able to provide resources to help or just a friendly ear. Just remember that staff won’t always be at their desk, distractions are inevitable. So if you are trying to get in touch with someone, don’t react negatively if they don’t respond straight away.
2. Invest in Work Management Software
Managing staff with the old fashioned pen and paper may have worked before lockdown, but it will certainly be tricky now. Similarly, emails are a great communication tool but you can easily lose track of them and staff may forget to update you with their goings-on. You can manage everything online, from ongoing projects, staff holiday and timesheets – ensuring nothing is missed. Programmes such as Cezanne HR Software are perfect for this and can be easily adapted to suit your business needs. It is a good place to easily track any members of staff that could be struggling. Under-performing at this time should never be mistaken for poor ability or work ethic, some people simply need more support at this time and this is the perfect opportunity to provide it. This will also help greatly when we all do return to our offices. Some staff may be able to do so as soon as it is safe to, while some may have trouble organising childcare or may have to self-isolate. By using an online HR system, you can ensure no matter where any staff member is working, they can all stay updated and let you know how projects are going on their side.
3. Give Some Flexibility
While your employees may have had no issue with working normal office hours, things are much different now. Each day comes with new announcements and what may not matter to you could make a huge impact on someone else. We all need to exercise flexibility. Your team members probably aren’t used to trying to work with screaming kids, demanding pets or sick family members around them, they are now having to juggle this alongside fitting a full working day into their schedule. All while confined to their homes. Emotional stress can easily be heightened as well if a loved one contracts the virus or a household member is a key worker at a higher risk. This can add anxiety and worry, often leading to a daily struggle to manage their workload. Allowing your staff to be flexible with the work hours and completing tasks when it suits them can make their lives a lot easier.
4. Encourage Breaks
It’s a common mistake and one that so employees often do, overworking when at home can be easily done. Your employees may often feel the need to prove their ability remotely and will therefore never take a break, including lunch breaks. Although you may be trying to squeeze as much work in as possible, especially with such an unsure economy, you need to discourage this. Breaks are essential to give our brains a rest and (if possible in our homes) get some fresh air and exercise, even if it’s just stretching our legs away from our desks. If you want quality from your staff, you need to sacrifice a bit of time so they can be as revitalised as possible. Government guidelines state we can leave our homes once a day for exercise, while we all still have evenings free, we don’t always have the energy at the end of the working day. Consider allowing longer lunch periods so staff can get the exercise they need to stay healthy, not just physically, but mentally too.
5. Carry On Training
Just because staff are all in different places now doesn’t mean you can’t continue training. By continuing to further your staff’s skills you are not just keeping everyone up to date with the best practices, but also showing value. Staff’s progression plans may now be on hold and this can be disheartening to some, especially if they were working towards goals before the pandemic. While you may not have the resources to progress people through the company at the moment, it shouldn’t mean you are unwilling to carry on training. There are plenty of online courses, webinars and training videos available, collate these and share them with your team. Some of your team don’t know how to deal with all this free time so it can keep them busy whilst feeling productive as there is only so much Netflix they can watch.
The most important thing to remember, none of us have been here before and it is going to take some trial and error, along with patience and time to iron out all the kinks. The main focus is making sure everybody is on the same page, feels appreciated and are comfortable approaching you with any queries or concerns which will inevitably arise.