As the pandemic continues to exist, employers are anticipating remote work to be an ongoing fixture.
Here at Kiwi Partners, we have provided previous guidance on returning to work safely (Top Questions about Returning to the Workplace) and addressing concerns whether to reopen the office or remain remote (Key Considerations for Employers Considering Return to Work Vs. Staying Remote). Over the past few months, we have seen employees quickly adapting to a new work set up while balancing overlapping environments. This change impacts everyone in different ways. While some employees found that they can be more productive at home, some have found their blended environments highly disruptive. Below are some ways employers can ensure that they are proactively supporting their employees.
Flexibility in Schedules
It is important to remember that not everyone has the same situation and set up when they work from home. There are employees with families or young children who are also deeply affected by the pandemic. Allowing flexibility in their work will lessen the stress of having to maintain a traditional 9-5 workday. Have supervisors talk to their staff and find out what would be helpful during this time and set realistic goals and deadlines.
One of the most significant ways to provide concrete support for staff is by giving them the tools to work remote efficiently. Communication tools such as Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet allow employees to stay connected with co-workers, supervisors, and other partners. Provide your staff with the equipment they need to work - issuing laptops, additional monitors, etc.
In a remote environment, it is vitally important to stay in touch with your staff. Communication with your staff should be a regular part of supervising staff, and the frequency of check-ins should increase. It is also important to note that employers should implement social ways to connect virtually - such as happy hours, coffee, or lunch together.
Mental and Physical Health
When employees moved to a remote environment, the regular unplanned water cooler conversations no longer became something employees can do. Encourage staff to communicate more using technology mentioned earlier or via chat platforms such as WhatsApp or WeChat, video conference chats, or phone calls. In addition to implementing happy hours or coffee breaks with staff, employers can offer supplemental options that benefit the mind and body, such as meditation sessions or short yoga sessions.
One way employers can help address mental health is to work with their insurance broker to see what options insurance carriers offer in terms of mental health or Teledoc services. Even with external services, if you notice your staff struggling or losing focus, provide a safe space for them to talk through some of the struggles they may be going through. Work with staff to find a viable solution to support them through these challenging times.
The impact of the pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on how we work, and the remote work model will most likely remain for the foreseeable future. Employers can play a vital role in helping their employees not only be productive but help them manage through this unprecedented national crisis.
For more helpful tips on how to improve productivity, reach out to a member of the Kiwi HR Services team.