Adapting to COVID-19 and Remote WorkAugust 17, 2020
There is no denying that the events of COVID-19 have created a significant shift in the way we live our lives. This notion also extends to the way in which we work as a result of the stay at home orders in place across the globe. Microsoft teams, Zoom and Slack have become the backbone of many businesses as a means of communication through these unprecedented challenges. For some, working remotely has been greatly accepted and even welcomed. Some industries have decided that this way of employment may continue long into the future, as significant costs can be cut through reducing or even removing on-site work in offices. For others, working from home has been a struggle, however. This style of work can be logistically challenging in terms of providing training or concerning teamwork. If companies are not careful, break downs in communication can easily occur. Other personal difficulties may be apparent for staff, including a lack of childcare services. Families that did not have a live in nanny already before restrictions may struggle to cope without child care centres operating.
Strong leadership is vital for companies to carry on business as usual throughout COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. This includes both internally within the business, and on a client or customer-facing basis. Building leadership capability is a priority for all businesses during this time, as new challenges arise every day. Whether these challenges involve engaging with clients and their needs, or keeping staff communication intact, developing strong leadership skills should be of great importance for all managers.
In order to overcome the difficulties of working from home during this period, it is essential to identify potentially problematic issues and generate tools and strategies to overcome them.
Long gone are the days when employees could quickly ask for an update or a question. Now, workplaces must ensure they keep regular contact via online services like Zoom or Microsoft teams. Additionally, staff must frequently check their emails and have regular phone conversations to stay up to date with other employees or clients. Most businesses have committed to having a work catch up at least once a week to ensure everyone is feeling alright and is coping with their working conditions.
Industries such as childcare have also been significantly disrupted, causing many employees that rely on these services to struggle. In Victoria, stage 4 restrictions outline that childcare centres and nanny services are unable to operate at this time. This may present challenges for parents that work full time and have to care for children. Employers should work with staff to create flexible work schedules if necessary.
Employee Mental Health
The COVID-19 restrictions have without a doubt impacted upon the mental health and well-being of many. Particularly in regions with extremely strict restrictions, such as Victoria’s state of disaster ruling and stage four restrictions, people are struggling not being able to leave the house. It is important that staff keep in touch with each other and check-in that everyone is coping. Going for a walk for an hour a day, getting some sunlight in the backyard, or phoning a family member is vital to maintaining good mental health. Additionally, a good sleep schedule and taking regular short breaks can help to reduce stress and fatigue. For individuals that are struggling, the Victorian government has released an additional ten sessions under Medicare to speak with a psychologist in acknowledgement of the strain that restrictions have caused.
A higher volume of internet users has been the result of working from home, causing some services to slow. Other individuals may not have even had access to the Internet at home previously. With libraries closed and Internet cafes only allowed to operate on a takeaway basis, some individuals in the workforce may be at a disadvantage due to restrictions imposed. Therefore, employers and employees must work together to overcome any of these issues. Some companies have offered their staff an extra sum of money per week to dedicate to utilities, including Internet.
Need for Strong Leadership
Online leadership courses are in high demand currently. With the climate requiring stronger leadership, communication and collaboration skills than ever before, many managers and CEOs have taken some time to improve their leadership style. Leaders must comfort staff during the uncertain times and make sure that employees are coping with the new style of working.
Essential Workers and Businesses
While a large percentage of the population has commenced working from home, this is not possible for all industries. For workers in this category, there has been a focus on spreading awareness about COVID-19 and how to protect everyone from this virus. Banner printing has been a key tactic in promoting workplace safety. These banners help to enforce behaviours such as social distancing, by standing 1.5 metres away from others, and encouraging frequent hand washing or sanitising.
Online printing services have also assisted businesses with advertising material such as posters and shelf wobblers to encourage customers to support them during this time. So, while essential services may still be running, it is clear that these industries have also been heavily impacted by COVID-19.
While this year has been challenging, to say the least, everyone must keep working together to keep each other safe and prevent the spread of Coronavirus. If we all look out for each other, whether it be phoning your colleagues, checking up on a neighbour, or Facetiming a friend, we can make it through this difficult time collectively. Look after your mental health by partaking in regular exercise, getting some sunlight, eating healthy and maintaining a good sleep schedule. It may be tempting to do some extra work at 10 pm but refrain from doing this. Set yourself dedicated work hours and stick to this to allow yourself the break you need. A good way to pass the time at home is to find some new hobbies. Painting, learning a new language, reading a new book series or learning a new skill can help to make the stay at home restrictions more tolerable.