With COVID-19 now rewriting how we’re working for the foreseeable future, many American businesses are trying to navigate how to successfully continue on with a fully remote workforce.
Fortunately, there are many things that business owners and managers can do to make this transition and extension of the workplace easier on their employees and maintain a positive culture for everyone.
While many states are currently adapting slightly varied mandates and suggestions about working, one thing remains clear: The Centers for Disease Control are encouraging all those who can self-isolate to do so, and stay home.
Whether your business has already made this transition or is anticipating it soon, one of the first things to do is to ensure that all remote employees have the right equipment and access required to successfully continue working from home.
Studies of traditional workplaces show that outdated and/or malfunctioning equipment not only creates stress, it also reduces morale. Giving employees the opportunity to take home any equipment (computers, printers, laptops, tablets, etc.) that they would normally use, as well as any furniture they may need, is a great way to help establish a comfortable and familiar office space.
In conjunction with this, employers can also help employees take any necessary steps to stay connected. In a busy office setting, internet and phone access is a given, but in a home setting, it may not always be the case. Employees may be challenged by this, and providing temporary hot spots, signal boosters or other equipment will not only maintain productivity, it also shows support for your employees.
Additionally, if your business is relying on new technology to communicate internally as well as with customers, make sure your employees are comfortable and competent in using video conferencing, electronic meet-up rooms, etc. Doing a quick check-in to answer any technology related questions lets your staff know that you are concerned and want their remote communication to be effective, professional and worry free.
Many people now working from home are finding themselves in a somewhat cramped and chaotic environment, with the possibility of multiple people in the home at one time. Recognizing that home and work life are not only merging, but co-existing, will go a long way in maintaining a positive, supportive culture for your workforce.
Keeping video and other online meetings brief, focusing on email communications and providing a little more flexibility in scheduling is something that all employees will appreciate as they juggle their work life and home life. Focusing on the end result of a task being completed rather than when it is completed, is also helpful. Allowing employees to extend and/or modify their workday hours to meet deadlines can help with time management, and lower stress levels.
For example, you may have an employee who also has children remotely attending school from home, as well as a spouse or partner at home. In these homes, everyone can be staking claim to computers, wifi and workspaces at the same time. Your employee may find that the best time to work is early in the morning or later in the evening when the rest of the family is preoccupied with other activities. Offering the ability to flex those at-home hours can be quite helpful for remote employees under the current conditions.
Additionally, giving employees the ability to step away from the job, even for short periods of time, can help them recharge their batteries during these stressful times. Everyone is trying their best to navigate this new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, and sometimes life can get overwhelming.
Finally, as in a traditional workplace setting, employees still want to feel valued and appreciated. There are many ways that this can be done remotely and without significant effort:
- Regular individual and team recognition for a job well done through a group email.
- A direct email that recognizes when an employee puts in extra effort or helps out a coworker is a great way to show your appreciation and keep workplace culture positive.
- Regular sharing of remote work anecdotes that others on the team can appreciate and identify with during these unusual working conditions. Everyone is in the same boat right now and humor is the best medicine!
- A quick handwritten card, sent via US mail, or even a small token gift sent to employees’ home addresses, can be a morale booster. Investing in a packet of coffee, a coffee mug, flowers, and even something with the company logo can be a great way to remind employees that their work is appreciated.
- When employees are allowed to return to the workplace, schedule a team activity that recognizes the effort everyone contributed to keeping things running smoothly.
Nationwide, American businesses and their employees are adjusting to remote workplaces. While this situation may be short-term, American businesses owners and managers are likely to gain some positive knowledge in learning how employees can successfully work remotely. If done right, some businesses may find that they don’t even need a physical office after all.