Nearly one-third of Canadian businesses have 10% of their workforce teleworking or working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is twice as many as pre-COVID levels. This new work situation makes it necessary for companies to develop ways to ensure that work from home is productive and engaging for employees and the organization and to find means to remotely support the emotional roller coaster that employees are experiencing.
Common challenges of remote work include a decline in job performance and engagement, reduced access to managerial support and communication, lack of face to face supervision, difficulty accessing information, social isolation and home-related distractions. The following are some ways to help your employees adjust to remote work, ensuring productivity and reducing stress and isolation.
Watch for signs of distress: Use conversation and observation to monitor your employees’ challenges and concerns. Keep an eye out for indicators of loneliness, anxiety and depression. Provide your managers with guidance regarding ways to broach sensitive subjects arising from the pandemic. Provide employees with the information and perspective they need to enable them to express and process negative emotions allowing them to feel more in control. Consider establishing a buddy system to facilitate checking in, keeping spirits up and offering support. Encourage employees to utilize the company’s mental health supports.
Equip employees: Provide the technology your workers require (laptop, phone, camera, desk, chair, monitors, etc.). Make sure employees know how to operate virtual communications.
Promote communication: Provide several communication options (email, video conferencing, audio only). Offer predictability and structure by establishing daily check-ins (one on one calls and/or a team call) to allow employees to consult with managers, ask questions, establish a course for the day and express concerns. Let workers know the best time to reach you during the workday.
Encourage remote social interactions: To help reduce feelings of isolation and promote a sense of belonging, leave time at the beginning of each meeting for small talk, for catching up with each other. Have participants express their current state of mind.
Make time for fun: Reduce stress and promote connection by infusing a little fun into your coworkers’ day. Create channels for non-work banter about pets, kids, binge-watching, bread baking, etc. Have an online trivia night. Try a virtual wine tasting or start a virtual book club. Establish a theme for the occasional meeting (sock day, hat day, pet day, etc.). Try a virtual pizza party (pizza is delivered to team members before the videoconference) or virtual office party (care packages sent in advance and opened simultaneously), virtual coffee dates or opt-in meetings with no agenda.
Trust your employees: Avoid the temptation to micromanage. Create remote guidelines. Emphasize objectives over processes to create greater clarity for employees. Focus on production based on deliverables rather than hours. Flexibility empowers employees to complete their assignments in their own way.
Increase recognition: Disruption increases employees’ desire and need for acknowledgment. Effective recognition motivates individuals and signals to others what behaviour is valued. To assist you in identifying elements to recognize, ask what barriers workers have overcome or ways peers have helped them. Consider acknowledgment during team meetings, tokens of appreciation, developmental opportunities and/or low-cost perks.
Provide corrective feedback: Give workers small frequent performance guidance before problems pile up, allowing everyone to stay in sync despite the distance.
Encourage innovation: Don’t be afraid to try something new to promote employee engagement and organizational success. Highlight the importance of continuing to innovate and ensure employees that risks are worthwhile.
Employees look to the manager for clues on how to react to change and/or crisis. Effective leaders acknowledge the stress and anxiety employees are feeling, provide support and express confidence in their team. The swift shift to remote work caused by COVID-19 is complicated. It’s your job to remove barriers to production and momentum by equipping your employees, communicating clearly, providing frequent recognition/feedback and watching for signs of distress.
Need remote workers? Looking for assistance in finding the best candidates for teleworking? Call the Calgary recruiting agency, Equation Staffing Solutions at 1-844-367-9618. We are a reliable, innovative, collaborative agency here to support you in your search for personnel. Our experience will assist you! Contact us today.