It’s hard to avoid the topic of conversation: COVID-19 and how it has significantly impacted everyone across the world. From self-isolation, dwindling food stocks, and keeping children entertained throughout lockdown, coronavirus has swiftly uprooted our normal routines.
An increasing number of employees now work from home and it is essential to businesses that staff are as motivated as possible. Not only does this ensure that they can run as smoothly as they did before lockdown, but it also helps to protect the mental health of the workforce.
Although some may grumble about having to continue working, it is vital to keep our brains busy and draw our focus away from the troublesome time our world is facing.
1. Communication is Key
Communicating in the workplace is easy and delegating small tasks, concerns, or news can simply be discussed in passing.
When it comes to remote working, this can be a lot harder. To make up for this, schedule regular video calls and conferences. Firstly, this will help employees get into a routine. Secondly, it is a lot easier to consult about something via video chat than an email.
Keep chat channels open between all employees during the working day. It is crucial that staff feel comfortable contacting you with any questions or issues. If communication is an arduous task that leads to delayed replies, employees might feel reluctant to carry out work that they are unsure about or waste time producing the wrong thing.
It is also important to maintain relationships between all members of staff. Bonds can be formed quickly in the office but can easily dissolve without interaction.
Encourage staff to maintain these relationships by allowing some time for a general catch-up. This will mean it will be easier for everyone to ease back into their workplace culture and routine back at their office once it is safe to do so.
Remember that not all chatter that happens in your office is work-related and staff should still feel like they can continue friendly conversations while working at home.
2. Continue with Staff Development
With all this uncertainty, it can be hard to focus on the future of staff and the business as all efforts are on protecting the next few months.
It is crucial to still direct attention toward staff development. The team might be incredibly qualified and talented but they should still be challenged.
Career progression may not be feasible at the moment and this can often leave staff disheartened and unmotivated. To increase their productivity, set personal and performance goals.
Remote training can be difficult to negotiate so perhaps look into online training courses for staff members.
Remember that this is a learning experience for everyone and setting challenging goals doesn’t mean they will always be met. What is important is looking at how these tasks were approached and handled and praise good methods, even if they failed.
3. Don’t Micromanage
Some staff members can become easily distracted working from home, especially if they have young children or other family members who may demand their attention.
While bosses may want to check-in on staff periodically to ensure they are working as hard as they can, micromanaging desk time can have the opposite effect.
Micromanaging can become taxing on staff and portrays distrust in them. Instead set out clear tasks and goals to be achieved by the end of the day, week or month.
After all, nobody can attentively work for eight hours straight each day. Everyone needs breaks, so employees should regularly take these to stay focused.
Encouraging achievements and subsequently celebrating them will motivate staff members to accomplish tasks effectively. Productivity will be enhanced if employees are allowed to get on with the task at hand and only be approached when required.
4. Invest in the Right Tools
Remote working can be a challenge to some, therefore, discussions with employees should occur to check that they have the appropriate working conditions that will allow them to do their job.
A good seat and stable desk will maintain correct posture and prevent any long-term back problems.
If employees are expected to make a lot of phone calls, handsets should be considered to be delivered to them and redirect the lines to their home.
It is not just physical items that need to be addressed, there are plenty of HR software providers, like Cezanne HR, and other online tools that can make the running of businesses easier now everyone is remote.
5. Trust the Team
Once a remote working plan has been established for the next few weeks or months about productivity, trust must be shown to employees to allow them to accomplish their tasks and personal goals.
When employees feel like they are not trusted to perform their job correctly, it can increase pressure immensely and quickly lead to toxic work culture. This can spiral into low innovation and responsiveness.
Unless there is a valid reason for bosses not to trust their workforce, they should always have full faith in their abilities and work ethic.
This is an unprecedented situation that all businesses are experiencing at the moment, consequently, there will inevitably be an element of some trial and error when working out how businesses can effectively operate and manage their staff.
It is important to acknowledge that during this current situation, employees would need to maintain a balance between work and social duties.
Looking after vulnerable family members or having to take on childcare can impact work and allowances may need to be made. However, if handled correctly, employees will be able to return the favour and demonstrate loyalty and levels of hard work. The pandemic will likely affect the mental health of employees, so it is important that care and dedication must be demonstrated by taking the time to ask how everyone is feeling and check in on them, especially if they live alone.