The phrase “a new normal” is probably the most used phrase of 2020 so far. We are all being told that even when lockdown starts easing, our lives will not simply fall back into what it used to be.
Amongst the many changes a lot of us are experiencing is the new working from home (WFH) regime. Some have been more used to doing this pre-lockdown but even those people have been used to being able to network and have face to face meetings whilst WFH. In these new times, we are required to stay at home with little or no other human contact. All our meetings are online and Zoom, Teams and other platforms have seen a marked increase.
We have all seen various articles giving employees tips and tricks on how to effectively WFH. These are to be commended as we are all getting used to a new way of working.
Here I highlight 5 tips for employers to ensure WFH runs smoothly for their employees.
It goes without saying but in an office environment people have a dedicated desk, a suitable chair (set at the correct height and position) and all the equipment and technology one needs within easy reach. This is not always as straight forward when employees are WFH. Some may not have a separate room to set up as an office – some may only have their dining room table. Assisting employees with getting set up – and encouraging them to have a dedicated work space where possible will – greatly increase morale. This includes having open discussions about broadband speed (inadequate broadband can be demoralising for the best of us!), how to work online scanners and apps and having the correct phone package.
2. Keep the lines of communication open
If you are used to being able to pop in to the office next door, having your employees scattered out of sight can hamper the usual lines of communication which can often lead to productive brainstorming. Employers should remember that employees may feel reticent to call up their manager/boss/employer with small queries so it should be a regular part of your routine to check in all your direct reports. This doesn’t always need to be in the form of a phone call. And not necessarily always strictly work-related. Share an interesting article, send a text asking how they are doing, call them up when you know they have just finished a project.
3. Structure, lists and targets
Let employees know that whilst you appreciate life and the way everyone works has changed (especially now with children also at home!) the working day is just that. In order to keep motivated, setting a structure in place and encouraging the use of daily lists can be beneficial. It helps employees feel that they have achieved their objectives. Similarly, setting targets can help both you and the employee know where they stand. Employees should also be encouraged to dress appropriately (within reason) especially if they will be undertaking video meetings with clients. In the same vein, employees should be encouraged to switch off their computers at lunchtime and take a break – this can be even harder to do when WFH but is equally as important.
4. Praise and reward employees
If number 3 above is utilised properly employers and managers should be able to easily see when their employees have been working well and completing daily tasks. In “real life” a quick well done would have been easier face to face but an acknowledgement and/or praise is still crucial now when WFH. It can assist employees in being motivated as much as anything else and will give them a sense of accomplishment.
5. Be “visible”
WFH should not mean out of sight. With the advent of so many online and communication platforms it is important for all to stay in touch – not just for work but for the human interaction. Your employees need to feel like a team – and employers, managers and bosses are as much a part of that team as anyone. Friday “virtual drinks”, online quizzes or just a lunchtime Zoom chat can help all feel connected.
For any assistance with the practical working of these or any employment-related questions, please contact our Head of Employment, Ilinca Mardarescu.