The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the day-to-day operations of countries as well as businesses around the world. To curb the spread of the virus and safeguard the health of employees and the general public, many companies have implemented a work-from-home policy. While telecommuting was already on the rise in several industries before the outbreak, the abrupt transition to a remote workforce has not been without pain points.
The constant barrage of news, economic uncertainty, and emotional distress add fuel to the flames as individuals face insurmountable pressure from all directions. Emotional and physical health is of grave concern as well as the urgency to find a sliver of normalcy within the chaos. Employees with families now find themselves coordinating with teachers daily to ensure their children continue to receive an adequate education. With the increased number of distractions during working hours, employers need to be proactive in helping their employees adjust to the current scenario so that they can thrive both in a personal and professional capacity.
Leading a team through the fog of battle to maintain productivity as well as the mental health of the organization is not precisely clearcut. Thankfully, in recent years organizations and their human resource departments have observed and reported several helpful insights to keep remote employees engaged and diligent.
First and foremost, either revise an existing telecommuting policy or develop one right away. Taking formal action will bring structure to the overall situation. Employees will have questions, and it’s vital for management across departments to be on the same page.
The policy should cover expectations, mental health services available as well as guidelines for reimbursing employees who accrue expenses such as the internet, phone, and tech to keep working effectively at home. If your IT department doesn’t already have a solution for cybersecurity via VPNs, or if you’re outsourcing to a third party, invest both time and money upfront in putting in place proper security protocols. Data breaches are the last thing you want on your plate.
Communication is the crux of any organization, pandemic or not. However, it’s critical to maintain a conversation with all employees, not just to monitor progress but also to provide emotional and mental support. While a “need to know basis” has its time and place, cast it aside and infuse your company culture with transparency. Setting the tone from the top will help ensure employees feel comfortable providing candid feedback. Employers or managers can then evaluate the pros and cons and adjust as needed.
While most office workers are accustomed to dialing into conference calls, this does little to reduce the isolating effects of a national quarantine. Video, on the other hand, brings focus via face-to-face social interaction. Naturally, security is a concern, but several reputable tech companies offer video conferencing to businesses big and small at affordable rates.
If your employees lack the equipment necessary for remote work such as a laptop and webcam, allocate funds or inventory on their behalf. Consider it a short-term investment that will have a long-term impact on the future of your company.
Each manager must adapt his or her distinct style of leadership to fit the times. Employees working from home will face several obstacles outside of their comfort zone. As such, managers need to provide structure and set realistic expectations, but also offer additional support. Avoid micromanagement and strive for a high-trust culture to keep motivation high.
Community and Teambuilding
Introverts may be more accustomed to privacy, but regardless of anyone’s traditional capacity for social interaction, it’s human nature to seek out connections, especially when social gatherings and outlets are unavailable. To mitigate the frustrations and anxiety of confinement, create a virtual community. A digital water cooler if you will. Consider planning activities that promote team building such as trivia or a movie.
Keeping employees motivated and engaged during this erratic time is challenging but possible. If you’re an employer that’s still having a difficult time adapting to a work-from-home policy, consider StaffScapes: excellence in HR outsourcing in Denver since 1996! Call today, and let our team assist you in setting up your organization for telecommuting success.