To avoid the spread of COVID-19, companies are starting to advise their staff to work from home, where it’s practical and achievable. This is a step you may choose to take to try and keep your service levels as normal as possible while also protecting your staff.
Several of the world’s largest companies have already told their office workers to stay at home, including Virgin Holidays, Ford, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. Royal Bank of Scotland advised office staff to work from home “to greatly reduce the number of people in our office locations, which will, in turn, limit the potential spread of infection.”
Of course, larger businesses are likely to have robust homeworking plans in place already. They may even have a certain percentage of homeworkers as standard. But what if you’re a smaller business and homeworking is new for you?
In our temporary homeworking guide, we cover off some of the most essential HR, Employment Law and Health & Safety considerations for businesses new to working from home. But what about employee morale, health and wellbeing?
It can be difficult for employees to adapt to a new work style if they’re used to a high level of interaction with their team every day. If a typical working day involves a bustling office atmosphere, calling consumers/clients or attending meetings, the new working from home policy can take its toll on employee’s mental health and wellbeing as this drastic change can cause a feeling of isolation.
A 2019 report on the State of Remote Work by Buffer details that 49% of remote workers note that their biggest struggle is wellness-related. More specifically, 22% can’t unplug after work, 19% feel lonely and 8% can’t stay motivated. These figures are only expected to surge following the Coronavirus pandemic resulting in thousands of employees instructed to work from home.
Jumping from a public work environment to the confined space of your own home can affect everyone. It’s really important for you to look at ways to make sure your people are still happy, productive and motivated under the circumstances. Let’s take a look at few ways you can make this work in your business.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) released a mental health guide for people who are self-isolating saying: “This time of crisis is generating stress in the population.”
Safeguarding your employee’s mental health and emotional wellbeing doesn’t have to be on overwhelming task, and even a quick phone call can go a long way.
These could be daily, every other day or weekly phone calls or even video calls. The idea is that you can continually assess workflow, set new tasks and check on your employee’s wellbeing. Working from home might be causing unforeseen issues for an employee, so it’s important to get feedback where you can. It also opens up the opportunity to discuss topics that aren’t work-related – catching up on plans for the weekend, asking after their family, discussing the news etc. You’d usually have these types of conversations in passing, over lunch or in brief meetings so it’s important to maintain this level of socialising where you can.
While you may worry that some employees may take working from home as an opportunity to take it a little easier, in reality, many will feel pressure to work harder, or longer hours, in order to prove they aren’t. As an employer you need to balance keeping productivity up alongside encouraging people to keep taking breaks. When working from home it can be very easy to feel tempted to stay at your laptop throughout your lunch or extend the end of the day by a few hours. Be sure to encourage staff to work their contracted hours and don’t stretch their working day into home life simply because they’re working from home. As with everything, balance is key.
We live in a more connected world than ever, so when it comes to keeping the whole team connected, technology is truly on your side. Try to keep team meetings and catch-ups scheduled in your diaries but use online programmes like Skype or GoToMeeting as your way to connect. This has a twofold effect: first it remains the consistency of the normal working week, and that’s going to make keeping your business running easier than if regular meetings suddenly dropped out of the diary. Secondly, it helps to replicate the ‘buzz’ of the normal work environment, helping people connect and socialise.
There are plenty of tools that allow employees to interact with one another such as asana, zoom, Basecamp, Trello, Flock to name a few. These are online collaboration tools so everyone can keep track of where tasks are up to and who they’re assigned to. Employees can often feel like they’re on an island so by having the ability to surround themselves with colleagues through these inherently social collaboration forums, can boost productivity and morale.
It’s important that your employees know that you support them so by communicating this to them can really benefit their wellbeing. Our Employee Assistance Programme, created in collaboration with BUPA, gives employees unlimited access to phone support from qualified counsellors so they can discuss anything they need to. Practical advice such as money management, landlord disputes, divorce and parenting is available. And there’s also trained counsellors on hand to provide fully confidential advice on mental health and wellbeing, providing the perfect way to access help from qualified professionals while staying at home, based on the huge changes to our working lives that COVID-19 presents us all.
If you’re already a Citation client and you’re interested in accessing our Employee Assistance Programme, you can get in touch with our dedicated Additional Services Team on 0345 241 5250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not yet a Citation client? Simply leave your details in the form opposite and one of our friendly team will be in touch to talk through your business needs.
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