Just as things started to seem a little more normal, we enter lockdown number two. As a result, many employees will now be back on furlough or working from home. It is predicted that this lockdown will be a little more difficult than the last as the dark nights set in, looking after employee and your own mental health is more important now than ever during these times. I have no doubt that many businesses are already finding ways to do this but for those that need some inspiration here are a few things to consider…
Provide some flexibility
Almost half (46.6%) of the UK population have been working from home since April 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But working from home affects every employee differently depending on their responsibilities and living situations. For example, workers with younger children need to balance additional childcare needs and the same goes for those with elder-care responsibilities.
Have an open conversation with your team members individually about how and when work can be accomplished and offer options for flexibility, such as an adjustment in working hours.
Maintain regular catchups with your team
Regular catchups on a 1:1 basis as well as a team is a great way to start maintaining a sense of connection. While your current work setup may not be ideal, having some communication can help maintain rapport and understand each other. After all you are all in the same boat.
Scheduling a 1:1 meeting with a team member will allow them to address any concerns they may have that they may not otherwise share in a team/ group setting. If you’re getting a sense that someone in your team is particularly struggling, make sure you follow up, and where you can, encourage them to speak openly about their feelings.
Encourage and host virtual social time
For those who have never worked from home until the pandemic, social isolation during these times will be deeply felt. The day to day routine has completely changed and the reduction of social connections can be difficult to adjust to.
Encourage your team members to find time to have virtual coffees, lunches or even happy hours with their colleagues. Also continue to mark birthdays, work anniversaries or other milestones with video calls and other methods.
Here at BCRS in addition to the more formal team meeting where we talk business (most of the time), we make time for a casual virtual lunch and host a virtual quiz for team members to join in just for a bit of fun to break up the day.
Encourage online collaboration
It’s easy to presume that employees will be effective working remotely as long as they have the right technological tools, such as video cameras and chatting software.
However, it’s not always that simple, and conflicts can emerge as a result of the different ways people prefer to communicate and use technology. Some workers may prefer communicating over email, while others react most quickly to instant messages or video calls on Microsoft Teams or Zoom. For others, the best way to reach them is with a good old-fashioned phone call.
To address this, collaborate with the team and work out how people wish to be contacted while working from home – particularly those you have regular contact with. Establish ground rules for the use of collaborative technology and build awareness of individual and cultural differences in communication preferences.
Working at home can make us feel like we have to be available all the time. But just being “present” is no use to anyone if your mental health is suffering.
Making time for breaks is important to help manage feelings of stress – encourage team members to step away from their screens during the working day. Even just 5 to 10 minutes of short breaks each hour can really help productivity.
Especially during the dark nights, it is likely that it is dark when you wake up and when you finish work. If possible, set a time to go for a walk, run or bike ride for some fresh air during day light hours.
That’s it from me this week, I hope you find this information useful and try implementing some of the above into your working lives if you don’t do so already.
For those of you that have an SME business in and around the West Midlands that has been affected by the pandemic, BCRS may be able to help.
We are an accredited lender for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). Click here to find out more.
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Published by Lauren McGowan – Digital Marketing Assistant