Tips for employers with staff working from home
Living through a global pandemic is extremely stressful, even if the only outward signs of stress might be feeling more tired or being less able to concentrate. Therefore, it is important for employers to step up and help their workforce remain as happy and motivated as possible when working remotely.
As we enter the second wave of Covid 19, the 'new' has worn off remote working, and finding new ways to keep communication open between employers and employees is essential. Safeguarding both physical and mental health has become high on any manager's list in ensuring workers remained engaged and that employees felt heard and valued.
How do you support employees working from home?
The most important thing a company can do to support people when they are working from home is help them to create a healthy workspace. It is also important when helping people work remotely to make sure that they feel supported and still part of the team.
Working remotely can feel isolating and can encourage long working hours and a poor work life balance. Also, if someone's home office is the laptop on a kitchen table - especially if they are also trying to teach children who are not in school and keep on top of other household tasks - effective time management can be almost impossible.
When the lines blur of what is working space and what is home space, that can be where problems start. Your work area should always be separate from any space you use for relaxing and unwinding. In other words, it is best not to work sitting on the sofa, not least that they are bad for your posture and can lead to health problems.
Employers can support their employees by giving health and safety advice on how to set up a workspace, even if it is not a dedicated home office. It is also important to ensure that they have access to all the business equipment that they need to work full time at home.
Also ensure that your employees aren't overloaded; video fatigue is real, so keep meetings short and sweet, and make sure that you don't invite more team members than really need to be on the call - trying to interact with faces on screens can be exhausting.
Also, allow your employees to set a routine; traditional working hours might have to be put aside for the time being, so you need to make sure that they aren't working longer than they usually would out of 'out of office' guilt. It can help to replace the commute with a walk outside or an exercise routine, and 'close' the office at the end of the working day. A standard 9 to 5 might not be practical at the moment, and it might even be useful to you as an employer to have an employee available to take out of hours queries.
If you can, organise some of those online meetings to be social events. Working from home can be isolating and have an impact on the mental health of remote workers, so make an effort to keep lines of communication running as you all work from home.
How do companies benefit from employees working from home?
It is no secret that a lot of small to medium companies were just managing prior to coronavirus in terms of being able to afford expensive office space. Once we emerge into a post-Covid world, it is likely that many of those currently remote working will continue to do so. This will save companies a significant amount of money in terms of floor space requirements.
Also, it can be more cost-effective to help employees set up to work from home. Making sure they have the right technology to do their job at home not only improves their working day, it improves their productivity.
How do you motivate employees to work from home?
It will not have escaped your notice that there is not much by way of leisure time activity available to many people as the country is still under significant safety and social distancing measures to protect peoples' health. It can be a good thing to let your workers know how much you appreciate their efforts by sending working from home gifts to let them know their input has not gone unnoticed. Sending employees gifts can be tied to specific benchmarks or achievements, or corporate chocolate gifts might be appreciated in the run up to Christmas. The festive season will seem particularly difficult this year as people work at home rather than enjoy office parties and dinners which cannot be managed with proper Covid health and safety measures.
Helping your team in other ways by paying for work related training online can reassure them that they are valued, and that you are doing the best you can to look after them as an employee as well as making them an asset to the company.
Finally, just saying thank you can sometimes be enough. We are all living through times in a world we are unprepared for, and by doing their best to engage with remote work on your behalf, your employees are already demonstrating the kind of loyalty that deserves reward.