The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed millions of employees to work from home, including many who never had before. A number of these remote-work arrangements were implemented suddenly, leaving employees and managers alike to navigate a new work reality alongside personal anxieties and concerns about the public health crisis.
Without intentional efforts from both workers and management, remote work—especially during this tense, uncertain situation—can leave staff feeling distracted, isolated, unmotivated and stressed.
This is a crisis work-from-home scenario that we’re all dealing with. Work and life are colliding in ways that we have never seen before.
According to research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 71 percent of organizations are struggling to adapt to remote work, especially in the areas of productivity and communication, and 65 percent cited maintaining employee morale as a top challenge.
“COVID-19-related stress is having a dramatic impact on employee productivity,” said Ashley Miller, SHRM-SCP, workplace innovation manager at SHRM. “Meanwhile, feelings of burnout and unproductivity have increased. Communication, support, trust and recognition must be priorities in this new normal to maintain high engagement and morale.”
Due to all the competing requirements for employees’ attention at this time, it has become more important that leaders intervene and help prioritize what should get done, stated Mark Royal, senior manager for Korn Ferry, according to Chicago. “Reduce clutter by eliminating things from the to-do listing which aren’t crucial and allow people concentrate on what’s.”
Employees have to be sensible about what they can and can not accomplish based in their residence situation and ought to let their supervisors know that.
Usually, remote employees “have peace and quiet, and massive blocks of time to focus with no interruptions,” explained Chris Dyer, a remote-work urge and office performance and involvement consultant based in Brea, Calif.. However, these are not normal times, together with partners, spouses and children at the home.
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Robinson said distant employees should designate a particular area of the home as a workspace to be able to focus better and minimize disruptions.
“Locate a stress-free zone where you’re able to focus,” he explained. “If you do not have another room, locate an area with minimal traffic stream or a corner of a room off in the primary place. Establish tight bodily borders around your workspace that’s off-limits for housemates. When at all possible, only visit your designated area if you have to do the job.”
He said it is important to stop intrusions to your workspace by telling others that through at-home work hours, then you are unavailable and should not be disrupted.
Snow said successful remote workers normally build a distraction-free plan in their workplan such as finding a workspace which adjusts their needs and making arrangements with household members to restrict personal distractions. “First, it is disrespectful to everybody else in your home.
Robinson said emotional boundaries also have to be established and fortified so in-house employees aren’t always reminded of temptations around these or incomplete private tasks that could undermine productivity.
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The more time that is spent on formal meetings, the less time there is to get workers’ other duties or for more-beneficial casual interactions with supervisors and coworkers, Royal said. “If it is not essential to the company or the well-being of your workers, cancel it.”
Dyer noted that employers have been doing lots of one-on-one meetings and companywide Zoom meetings because employees are sent home. “Both are unsuccessful for cooperation,” he explained. “There are occasions when you’ve got to get a one time, but a lot of times people will phone 1 individual about a job rather than encouraging the staff working on the job to immediately have a group dialogue.”
Both Dyer and Royal urge scheduling micro-meetings of 15 minutes to pass along data fast and make conclusions expedient
“Everybody’s candor radar is on high alert at the moment.”
“If people do not have advice, they’re left to create their own erroneous decisions. Managers will need to overcommunicate to be sure individuals have all of the information that they can potentially have as a way to quit stressing about things and become productive.”
Royal said the catastrophe provides opportunities for businesses to celebrate tales of organizational strength and successes in overcoming challenges.
He added that supervisors will need to promote their teams to maintain themselves too. “Give people a voice to say what they’re experiencing,” he explained. “That may be achieved through formal mechanisms like heartbeat surveys or via personal and direct engagement with workers. To ‘Are you currently working?’ ‘How are you linking?’ ‘Are we responding?’ And ensure the feedback is integrated efficiently.”
Royal explained that managers must also be clear in communication regarding the way in which the organization will handle performance objectives and rewards. “This can help to keep individuals from becoming distracted with worry about how performance and compensation reviews will be managed in this time period.”
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People need to be conscious of their mental state, Snow said. “Productivity happens when people can reduce their stress levels. Build self-care into your daily routine, whether that is a walk in the sunshine, contact with loved ones or spending virtual social time with colleagues.”
Get outside as much as possible, Robinson agreed, to avoid cabin fever. “Mounting research shows that spending time in nature lowers stress, helps you relax and clears your mind. After work hours, watch a good movie, read a book or cook a fun meal. And lead as much of a full social life as possible. Use Facetime, Facebook or Skype with friends and family members so you feel connected to the people in your life that you care about.”
Don’t forget to keep your attitude in check, he said. “Your greatest power is your perspective. It can victimize you or empower you. When you look for the upside in a downside situation and figure out what you can control and what you can’t, it’s easier to accept whatever is beyond your control.”
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