When COVID-19 hit the world, businesses were quick to send their staff home for what seemed like a temporary situation. Most businesses and workers had no idea how it would work out. Surprisingly, working from home proved to be beneficial to both employers and employees. Employees are enjoying an opportunity to improve on their work-life balance as well as saving money on commutes. Employers, on the other hand, are seeing improved productivity from happy and satisfied workers.
Several months later, what seemed like a daunting way of doing work has slowly turned into something organizations are considering for the long-term even post pandemic.
However, for this new way to work for both parties, there is a need for continued support. If you are planning to join the likes of Square and Twitter to allow people to work remotely forever, here are ways to offer support to your personnel.
1. Allow flexible schedules
Even when work locations changed, most organizations still maintained the traditional 9-5 work hours. While employees can pull this for a short-term period, it can prove difficult for a prolonged remote working setup. Remember that these people have personal demands that they need to take care of. If you restrict them to a schedule, it can be easy for their minds to be crowded by the need to fulfill other duties, putting a strain on their productivity.
Going forward, it is important to allow flexible schedules in every sense of the word. Let your employees create their own schedules and work when they feel most productive. You can come up with a calendar highlighting each individual’s availability. This will help have clear expectations from your employees. Consequently, you will see boosted productivity when employees are allowed to own their time.
2. Support proper workspace setup
For some employees, remote working could mean working from the sofa or bed. It could also mean working from the kitchen table without a proper chair. While this can provide a short-term solution, we all know that working like this for prolonged periods of time can be detrimental for their health. We also know that you can’t expect much from them when they aren’t feeling well.
In that case, it is important to sensitize on the importance of having a proper office setup. Be willing to support them in this aspect as per individual’s needs. You can offer them allowances to help them acquire an ergonomic chair and table. Take it a notch higher and offer guidance on how to set up their workspaces ergonomically. A home office is also important to keep away distractions and draw a boundary between work and life matters. You can support them by setting up home offices in the spare rooms of their homes. In addition, you can lend a hand for home additions projects to include office spaces to those who would need it.
In addition, offer allowances to the employers to purchase work-related supplies. This could be an extra monitor, internet connection, or any other supply needed to make their work efficient.
3. Support mental and general health
Keeping teams connected is very crucial in remote working. Unlike in a traditional office where employees’ interactions happen all the time, it is different in remote working. Working in isolation can become lonely especially when an individual lives alone. This could affect employees’ mental health in the long run.
Organizations have so far done a good job of keeping teams connected during the lockdown. The same routine should carry on post-COVID-19. Make sure that your employees are getting time for social interactions with the rest of the team. In addition, encourage your employees to make physical exercises a part of their daily routine. You can support them with gym subscriptions or buying work out equipment. They will need it for continued emotional and general wellbeing.
4. Show your availability
When employees shifted locations to work from home at the beginning of the year, no one was prepared for long-term work at home. Their minds were set at, “This is temporary and it will end soon”. Informing them now that they will be working remotely even after COVID-19, will feel like starting a new journey. There will be questions and new needs will crop up.
It is important to heighten your listening skills to understand and respond to the concerns of your people be it work or non-work related. Ask for regular feedback from them and follow them up with actions. In addition, be available whenever your team members need you.
Long-term remote work post-Covid -19 for first-timers translates to a new set of challenges. If the setup is to succeed, employers must be prepared to offer the necessary support, financial or otherwise. In addition, employers must support the emotional, mental, and general health of employees.
Christian Kruse is economic in marketing specialization, Strategic Consulting. With over 20 years’ experience working at the intersection of marketing and technology. A transformational leader, Kruse has held a raft of executive positions throughout his career including Chief Strategy, Data, Strategic Director for Oracle Marketing Cloud, and Responsys in America.