Uncertainty may be one of the most stressful things that humans experience in life. With the recent COVID-19 global pandemic and the many changes our society is being forced to endure, stress levels are at an all-time high. One of the many disruptions people are adapting to is a change in the workplace. Transitioning from offices and public workspaces to a work-from-home environment can require some adjustment for the employee and the employer. Fortunately, employers can find a variety of resources to ease the transition in order to keep business as usual, maintain expectations for success, and ensure employee morale remains high.
With endless technological opportunities and virtual tools, capabilities now are better than ever to provide full support to your staff working remotely. Here are some ways you can alleviate the stress of working from home, create efficiencies, and promote your team’s professional and personal wellbeing.
1. Imitate your workplace as much as possible
Make sure that you continue to create a work environment that includes daily connections. Start each day with a morning meeting check-in, just as you would when in the office each morning. Using chatrooms like Slack, Hangouts, or Microsoft Teams to recognize your whole team or individual employees is a great way to get your day started and to let everyone know that you are still as available as you have been.
It is also a great idea to remain connected through video. A smile or facial expression can’t be duplicated in email, text, or even voice chats, so when possible, hold meetings and connections by hosting virtual video conferences. Using video conferencing allows for the face-to-face interaction you’d typically experience when presenting or discussing ideas. It helps everyone pay attention, stay on topic, and can even help to limit distractions. Video chats also promote “business as usual” since staff will dress for the occasion. While a suit and tie may not be necessary, video chats will definitely prompt an employee to change out of pajamas, brush their hair, and get into work mode.
2. Make expectations clear
To keep your business running smoothly and efficiently, it’s important to continue to hold your staff to your standard operating procedures and key performance indicators. If you do not have daily goals, policies, or procedures in place, now is the time to set those parameters and expectations together with your employees. Believe it or not, setting structure will help increase satisfaction for management and staff. When expectations are clearly defined, employees know when they meet requirements and can identify when their work is successful, eliminating any ambiguity and enhancing overall communication.
3. Maintain company culture
Many companies take advantage of happy hour, sporting events, employee lunches or dinners, and other fun team-building activities to appreciate its staff. During social distancing, this does not have to stop; instead, consider hosting a virtual happy hour, group game, or coffee meetup. Continuing to engage with the staff is a fun way to maintain employee camaraderie and have fun. Even offering things like friendly competitions, hourly check-ins with interactive topics or company-wide health initiatives (like walk breaks, online fitness classes, etc.) are great ways to keep employees engaged, motivated, and a little distracted to take their mind off a stressful situation.
4. Support your staff
An employee’s wellbeing is no longer a perk; it’s a necessity. Sending one-on-one messages or making personal calls to individuals is a great way to personalize your support and take your concern for each individual’s wellbeing to the next level. By reminding your staff that your managers and executives are here to help will raise company morale and loyalty during these uncertain times. Additionally, providing resources that focus on mental health and wellbeing, like access to apps like Calm, Headspace, or even remote mental health services, can act as additional but necessary benefits.
Employers are being asked to step up to the plate to support their employees in this time of crisis. Millions of Americans are now adjusting to a new life of remote working in order to keep up with day-to-day business operations. Workers are stressing about a variety of changes on top of the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Alleviating the stress of working from home should be every business’s number one priority if the goal is to continue “business as usual” as much as possible. Luckily, humans are willing to adapt in the face of struggle, and a little support from employers will go a long way.