In the early months of 2020, people in the world have read about the new coronavirus.
Most naively thought that it would not have a significant effect, like SARS, H1N1, Ebola, and Zika which were readily put under control.
However, by March, most of the globe was in quarantine lockdown, and everyone’s lives were turned upside down.
The most distressing aspect of the pandemic was the sudden loss of employment for months on end.
With the economy taking a beating, it became obvious to companies worldwide that the only way to get back in business was for their employees to continue working, not in the office but from their very own homes.
The Pros and Cons of Work From Home
When many companies initiated Work From Home (WFH) both employers and employees came to realize that there are advantages and disadvantages to this new working arrangement.
Among the benefits are the elimination of the tiring, daily commute which led to travel and gas savings for employees.
Because people are WFH, companies saw a reduction in their office space rentals and other real estate costs.
Productivity was increased because of the longer working hours and employees got to enjoy flexible schedules which allowed them to work during their peak times.
However, there were a number of disadvantages to WFH as well.
Some still continue to struggle in maintaining a work-life balance because they could no longer separate their work and personal lives. This is because of the absence of the boundaries (Ex. Morning ritual, dressing up for work, daily commute, etc.) which separated work from home.
The imposed isolation has also wreaked its toll on mental health, with WFH employees reporting loneliness, stress (due to double duties at work and with family), and burnout.
As an employer, there are steps that you can take to help your employees adapt to their new WFH status.
Tips on Helping Your Employees Adapt to WFH
Enumerated below are some tips which will enable you to help your employees adapt to their WFH situation:
1) Encourage setting boundaries and respecting them
Have your employees create a routine and schedule that meets their needs.
Having a set routine reduces incidences of stress and burnout. It is important that their schedule is flexible so that they can meet both their work and home responsibilities for the day.
For example, working parents may go online early in the morning to do some work and then stop midday to do some household chores and play with the kids.
Once these home activities are done, they can continue with their work in the afternoon and early evening. It is also important that employers respect the boundaries that their employees have created. This simply means no phone calls or texts after their designated work hours.
2) Reduce tedious, repetitive tasks
Nothing can bore and demotivate an employee more than to be constantly bombarded with repetitive tasks.
Make it a point to add creative and sophisticated projects to your employee’s workload to spark up their motivation and inspiration.
If there is just too much of the boring tasks, consider taking up automation solutions that can fulfill this work while leaving your employees to do the more challenging, inspiring work.
3) Do frequent employee checks
Doing frequent employee checks is a way by which you can establish communication lines and good rapport.
For an employee who is isolated at home, having their employer check in on them makes them feel that they continue to be a part of team.
The best way to communicate with your employee is through video conferencing so that it will be easier for you to see non-verbal clues of their present conditions. Don’t just limit your discussions to work.
Make it a point to ask how they’re doing, if they’re coping with their new WFH status, and if there are any adjustments that you need to make in their work schedules.
Instead of limiting your checks to twice a week or weekly video conferences, you can opt for daily calls especially if your employee is showing signs of burnout.
4) Organize virtual socializing events
Just because you and your employees are in lockdown and WFH does not mean you can’t have fun and socialize.
For example, encourage “water cooler sessions” during coffee breaks so that your employees can chat. Find a great time wherein everyone can join in on fun virtual events, like virtual parties.
In the case of parties, some employers even go so far as to have pizza and pasta delivered to their employees’ homes for a truly festive atmosphere. Here’s another fun idea.
Create a gaming portal which your employees can access. They can play games, chat and unwind.
5) Always provide support for health and wellness
Your employee may be WFH, but it doesn’t mean that they’ll always be in tip top shape.
As mentioned earlier, the isolation imposed by quarantine lockdowns can cause mental distress. Have counseling and support channels open for your WFH employees. Encourage them to switch to a healthier lifestyle by eating well-balanced foods and getting regular exercise.
You can recommend fitness apps to help them fulfill their health and wellness goals. You can also organize virtual meditation or yoga sessions so that all of you can participate.
Again, be especially mindful of signs and symptoms of WFH burnout in your employees. If they are suffering from burnout, recommend that they take a day or even a week off to recharge.
6) Encourage professional development
Because your employees are not tied down in the office, this is the perfect opportunity for them to boost their professional development.
Check out the training courses and certifications that are available online and have your employees take these courses during their off-hours. If these are paid courses, your company should shoulder the costs.
You can also sponsor your own webinars and training courses. Make these resources available online in your company website for all your employees to access after the original session.
7) Promote Community Volunteerism
You’ll be surprised that even in a WFH situation, you and your employees can do much for your respective communities.
For example, you can encourage peer-to-peer learning. You or a manager can teach employees new skills, even if it’s not work-related. If you have parttime employees or interns among your staff, you can have your full-timers offer them training lectures.
Nothing can be more motivational for an employer and an employee than to help other people in need.
As an employer, transitioning your employees to a WFH arrangement should not be a stressful and tense affair.
By following our tips above, you not only ensure your employees’ continued productivity at home, you also safeguard their health and well-being and still offer opportunities for career development and advancement.
If you’re looking for other resources on working from home, be sure to check out our Complete Guide To Working From Home to get you started!