How can you support your employees working from home during COVID-19?

World Health Organization (WHO) and respective federal guidelines amid the coronavirus outbreak has made the employees across the globe work remotely. More than 50 % of employees in America and more than 3 million people in India are working from their homes. For many employees, this may be the first time they had to work from home. In fact, it is the first kind of experience for many employers also.

Hence in the past few weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has forced countless companies to ascent to set up full-time work-from-home solutions for their entire staff. Thanks to technological advances, this switch can be just as productive (or even more so) than working in the office. In this direction, organizations are also increasingly adopting solutions that support effective remote communication and collaboration.

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, working from home was already on the rise globally. In the past 12 years, the number of employees working from home had risen 159% between 2005 and 2017, and over 5% of Americans now regularly work remotely. However, in the current times, amid global COVID-19 outspread, it has become a necessity to switch to work from home model.

There are many findings from this new working norm. A Stanford University study found that productivity increase among remote workers is equivalent to an extra day per person per week. And remote workers are, on average, less likely to burn out and in many ways more engageable than in-office workers.

On the other hand, since the majority of employees are habituated to working full-time at the office, this transition is a bit challenging for many. So, here in this blog, we are going to discuss how can you quickly transition your staff to online work while still being productive and happy.
Here are some easy tips to make the switch to online work as smooth and efficient as possible while at the same time also taking care of employee well-being.

  1. Set Work from Home Guidelines

Setting some ground rules for employees is essential when working from home. Many employees might be new to remote working set-up; hence it is very important to share some work from home guidelines with them. Your work from home guidelines should layout all that is expected from your employees, including the hours they should be available online.

Even some managers might also find it challenging to supervise their teams remotely. Hence managers are also advised to set a calendar and fix daily, weekly, and even monthly schedules to keep projects on track. Over and above conduct frequent check-in to ensure everything is on track.

  1. Align the right expectations

Managers should share their exact expectations with their team members. Say for example make clear guidelines about task deadlines and your team’s availability. Set a time for virtual huddles to discuss the daily work deliverables, and get your team into a recurrent virtual meeting routine.

Furthermore, having a fixed agenda eases stress by letting employees know that, even though they are working from home, they don’t have to work around the clock. Ask your teams to keep an account of hours worked, sick leave, and breaks honestly and with precision.

  1. Maintain scope for individualization

Individualization is a very important aspect of remote working. While, some remote workers feel lonely and isolated working alone at home, others like the flexibility and freedom that working from home offers. Similarly, some enjoy the flexibility to pick their working hours in a span of 24 hours; on the other hand, some like to have a real boundary between office hours and personal hours. Some perform their best in the middle of the night, while others like to work in a strict 9 to 6 cycle.

Accepting a remote worker’s schedule helps managers get the best out of each team member. Individualization helps remote workers “feel more accepted and cared for as an employee,” which is a fundamental element of this kind of engagement.

  1. Build trust and bond

Having a feeling of trust between teams is very important. Managers can build trust and a strong bond through personalization and individualization. A good amount of face time during onboarding greatly helps build trust later.
Knowing whom to reach out to for help also enhances productivity and interpersonal relationships within teams. Remote working lacks that perspective; hence this is something organizations should pay attention to. Supervisors who present themselves as an entrustment to their remote workers help improve conviction and connect. Something requisite to every employee’s well-being and success.

  1. Adopt the right technology to support remote working

Ideally, employees across the organization should have the same tools and software on their computers that they are using at home to ensure seamless communication. Using your company’s VPN can ensure that crucial company data remains secure.
You can also consider using Microsoft Teams so that your entire team can access, share, and edit documents in the shared folders. Further, to make communication easier Teams offers chat and calling features, including video calling.
While email chains and instant chats are useful for office work, take time to indulge in video calls with your team and colleagues. This will help employees feel more connected with their fellow team members. Also, at times having a quick call helps keep everyone in the loop better than long email chains. Additionally, it reduces the likelihood of important information getting lost in transit. Accordingly, to a survey, 59% of employees claimed that they prefer video chats to other forms of workplace communication when they are out of the office.

  1. Ensure Employee Well-being

Encourage employees to take small breaks when working from home. The lines between personal and professional hours get blurred when working from home. Hours on the clock and off the clock get easily disarrayed at home, hence encourage employees to take small breaks to refresh their minds and ease the body from being stiff, sitting in one posture. These breaks are usually missed while working from home.
Ensuring that your employees always clock in and out encourages them to still maintain a good work-life balance, even when they are operating from home.

  1. Be Considerate and Allow Flexibility

Each employee needs its own time to get into the routine of working from home. Give them enough time to adjust, and at the same time allow them a little flexibility to fulfill their personal commitments of the day. We have to understand that working remotely from home is not the same situation as working from the office, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. An employees’ children, spouse, and/ or roommates are likely to be home as well during this time, so try to be flexible and empathetic of their responsibilities at home.

  1. Form a Team for Decentralized Communication

Decentralized communications are reasonable and even desirable in large organizations. In an emergency or fast-moving situation, you need a crisis-response team. With the COVID-19, this seems like a good approach to manage teams working remotely.

Hope the above tips will help you make work from home experience effective and cheerful for your employees. Working from home should not sound like a last-resort in the current situation. In fact, if planned properly, working from home is a great way to cut costs on office space, electricity, and commute expenses. Further, with little planning, it helps improve work efficiency and coordination with your teams.

As per a survey steered by Owl Labs, approx. 83% of employees stated that the option to work from home would make them happier at work and another 71% of survey respondents agree that work from home option would make them more likely to choose one employer over another in their next job.

I will end this blog with this simple advice- Managing remote workers effectively requires a method recalibrated to suit the employee’s requirements in mind along with good technical support. Leaders need to keep that in mind as they manage their teams in the current situation and the future.

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