- April 20, 2020
- Posted by: Corina Vucic
- Category: Human Resources
Previously, working from home- even a day a week – was often viewed as a perk by employees. They avoided the time and cost of travelling, they could achieve things around the house in their lunchbreak, and many employers allowed some flexibility around work hours so they could pick up kids from school or attend medical appointments and make up the time later. Now that that working from home is mandatory for many employees, it’s no longer a perk but a hard necessity with a lot of peripheral baggage weighing in on the experience.
How can you help your employees adjust?
Counsel them to take time out to process how they are feeling.
Your team members need time to think about what’s happening, process the ramifications (not just for them but their extended family circle) and come to terms with the new order. If your business is in a position to provide reassurance on job security, even at reduced hours, give it.
Encourage them, where possible, to set up home work environments that are just about work.
The laptop on the kitchen table, especially if children are passing through regularly isn’t ideal. Even a small table in the bedroom (correct height of course) is preferable. Your team need to have privacy to make calls and video-conference freely. If there are distractions and people within earshot, then discussions and interactions aren’t going to be as frank as they should be.
Provide them with reputable sites to go for factual updates on COVID-19.
Some of the media reporting on the Coronavirus is speculative and misleading. Yes, everyone needs to be across all the facts – that’s how we’ll all keep safe and well – but they do need to be facts. Recommend sites like:
- The World Health Organisation site – who.int,
- Australian Government – health.gov.au
- Australian Government Whatsapp site http://gov.au/whatsapp
- Coronavirus Australia app for Apple and Android
Provide advice on how to keep their head-space clear
If you can help your team members cope with the very natural panic and distress they are suffering due to the current situation, then you are helping them be in the right head-space to be productive and valuable employees from their home offices. There are a lot of resources out there that businesses and individuals can tap in to and get help. Free resources such as SALTs Lunchbox Seminars, or the online resources from Smiling Mind here.
Allow flexibility in their working hours
Everyone has competing demands on them at the moment in providing support systems for a range of people both inside and outside the home. Allow some flexibility in hours – let them have a coffee and chat with their partner in the morning or take some time out during the day to play a backyard scavenger hunt with their littlies. Yes, you need 7.5 hours a day, but does it have to be from 9-5? Choose some core hours where the whole team is available and then let your people manage their workload. As long as the work is still done, and within expected timelines, does it matter if it’s done after dark?
Don’t be afraid to keep team members loaded up with work.
You may be tempted, if you feel someone is fragile, not to give them a lot to do. Obviously, this is a case-by-case scenario, but work is a distraction. Focussing on solving a problem, creating a solution creates a useful engagement of the mind, allowing the team member to disengage from panic mode while providing your business with what you need.
Embrace online technology
We are all being driven into a virtual world. We’ve lucky that there are so many programs out there that will keep you in touch with your teams allowing you to schedule and review work, discuss business strategy and even for taking the mental health temperature of your staff. Here are more tips from me on using technology to keep your team cohesive – Working from home
Provide a virtual staff lunchroom
Your team members create the fabric of your culture. That fabric is probably a bit frayed at the edges at the moment so it’s important that you provide a space for fun, sharing experiences and keeping those important relationships intact. For more information on social spaces for your teams, click here. Working from home
At the end of every day remind everyone how much closer we are to the new horizon
Your end of day de-brief with your immediate team should not only cover the days actions but should also include a pulse check on how everyone is tracking. It’s important to de-brief (factually) on the outside world. While we don’t know where or when the end line is, every day that we are working to limit the spread of COVID-19 by working from home is a day closer to it being controlled. Remind the team that you are all working to combat the virus, navigate the next norm and keep our minds focussed on what matters and only those things that we can change.