It is no longer news that the coronavirus pandemic has pivoted the corporate world, setting off changes that will last a long time. One such change implemented by business leaders and HR managers to adjust work to the new normal was creating a work-from-home structure. With many cities still restricting activities to curb the spread of the virus, many employees have now settled into remote work to keep business moving. But since it is no longer business-as-usual in these unprecedented times, business leaders also need to redesign strategies to maintain employee engagement in the new model.
Remote work may sound like fun, given you are working from the comfort of your homes and outside your employers’ close watch, the reality is different. Many employees say this new work model has brought with it different challenges that could potentially blunt productivity and engagement.
Employees working from home face the challenge of overworking, no thanks to blurry work-home boundaries. Remote work may also likely keep workers in the dark as it is easy to be out of the loop when working in isolation. This heightens employees’ concerns and fears about the future of their employment and if they may also be out of work in the nearest future. Add to these the plethora of tasks to the completed and unavailability of the right tools, and you’ll see commitment and productivity ebbing away in remote work models
What then can employees do to up employee engagement and productivity in these unparalleled times?
Open Communication Channels
Communication is a crucial factor in the workplace now more than ever. With the coronavirus pandemic plunging global economies into record lows, many employers are out of business and employees out of jobs or furloughed. Your employees working remotely see and hear these things and are filled with trepidation and anxiety about their employment future. No employee can give their best to work in such situations.
Furthermore, since the health crisis began, people around the world have developed a heightened concern for their health, watching for the latest guidelines on ways to stop the spread of the outbreak. For employees returning to on-site work, preventing COVID-19 infection is a top priority, and not being sure what measures are in place to prevent workplace transmission may cause unnecessary apprehension.
Therefore, communication is at the crux of employee engagement in this new era. Provide regular updates and information on the future of your business, your goals, and strategies to cushion the effect of the pandemic. This boosts your employees’ confidence and commitment.
Likewise, demonstrate and implement measures to curb transmission of the virus in the workplace. Demonstrate to your workers that their health is a top priority and that you are committed to safeguarding it amid the pandemic. You may also need to change some workplace policies to create flexibility for employees dealing with COVID-19 or who care for affected family members.
The value of workplace communication is also accentuated in this era of remote work. Employees are better engaged and more productive when they feel part of a community. While most of your employees are working in their homes across different corners of the world, work on maintaining a sense of community. Initiate interactive break sessions and regular video calls to keep colleagues connected. Also, create a feedback loop system that allows employees to share their opinions, suggestions, and ideas relating to optimizing workplace productivity.
Equip and Educate
The new model of work calls for new tools and resources to meet new work demands. You need to reinvent and help employees navigate the changing times to optimize productivity. Provide your workers with resources and upskilling opportunities through webinars, online courses, and other channels to help them get ahead with their tasks and goals.
For workers who are just getting into the swing of remote work, provide them with the right resources and technology to make the process easy. Provide information about and access to ergonomic workstations to ensure workers are at their best when working. Also, provide the requisite training for workers on how to use these tools to complete their work tasks. Working in isolation means that workers may find it difficult to embrace and understand new work tools and technology, but if you walk them through it before-hand, it smoothens workflow and helps employees complete their tasks faster.
Business owners also need to pay attention to the unique needs of their employees. Those that are struggling with remote work or those struggling with mental health problems, for instance, should be provided with the required assistance. This is where business leaders can leverage employee assistance programs (EAPs) to provide the needed assistance and help your workers get back on track.
Since many workers now work from home, business owners need to pivot their wellness strategies to make them accessible remotely. Offer virtual gym memberships, virtual yoga, mindfulness lessons, and online financial classes to help your workers enhance their health and optimize engagement while working from home.
Times have changed, so work has to be remodeled to fit the changing times. One key to maintaining employee engagement amid the health crisis is to be flexible with work. Allow workers to take frequent off days to allow them to take care of their loved ones battling with the pandemic, and to spend time with their family.
Remote workers also face the challenge of blurred work-home boundaries. State clearly to workers what times they are required to work so they can maintain a healthy shift between work and personal time.
Employees who work on-site may also be concerned about their risk of getting COVID-19 while commuting. HR managers can be flexible by hybridizing work patterns for such employees, allowing them to work from home on some days and on-site on other days.
With employees sharing their home offices with their spouses, children, and other family members, business leaders may be tempted to micro-manage their workers to monitor work progress. However, trust is incredibly vital at this time. Trust that your workers are doing their best to achieve company goals and provide the needed support for them to achieve this. Doing this makes your employees feel valued, which, in turn, enhances their engagement and productivity.
The coronavirus pandemic has upended the corporate world, pushing business owners to remodel work to fit into the changing environment. However, plunging employees into these new workplace models without adequate support may be unhealthy for employees and business success. Therefore, business owners need to pivot workplace strategies to not only safeguard employee health amid the pandemic but also enhance engagement and productivity in these unrivaled times. One such way for business owners to learn more about how they can enhance company culture during the pandemic is to attend Healthcare Revolution and gain insights directly from leaders in the field.