- Employees may have a hard time feeling motivated working at home because of the two clashing environments
- Keeping a routine will restore structure in the day
- Having an efficient communication channel will help keep employees focused
- Utilizing video calls as an alternative to face-to-face interactions will help employees feel more connected, especially when most interactions are simply through chat
- Encouraging employees to find a designated and committed workspace in their homes that distances them from any distractions
The pandemic has forced work and home to merge as the world continues to adapt to the new normal of social distancing. But with home often associated with rest and the office as a place of work, these two converging could spell out confusion and stress for employees who have to balance the two.
How do you separate work and play when they’re both happening in the same spaces?
Keep a Routine
The biggest hurdle your employees will face as they adjust to the work-from-home lifestyle is unproductivity. By spending their entire day inside, they might be tempted to put off work to stay in bed instead or watch movies to their heart’s content.
To avoid this, employers need to establish a consistent work routine and work hours for their employees. Maintaining a schedule at home similar to one implemented in the office will help employees push themselves to work and finish outputs, while also restoring a sense of structure and normalcy within the company.
Instead of sitting down and scrolling through social media all day, employees will have a schedule to follow that will boost their motivation and productivity, as well as help keep their days moving towards productivity.
Another part of keeping a steady routine at home is to fill in the gaps. Where morning commutes, coffee runs, and late breakfasts once stood, these can be taken out and replaced with a little exercise routine or quality time with family. Not opting to amend your routine to a home setting might give employees reasons to just stay in bed and start the day late.
Communication is Key
Having a steady channel of communication is not only extremely important for keeping a virtual business running, but it also makes sure that employees are engaged in their work. With all employees and employers alike having an open and determined form of communication at all times, employees will be anchored to their tasks and distractions can be kept away.
Regular communication about work-related requirements and conversations will keep employees’ minds engaged and set on accomplishing work assignments, keeping them consistently in work-mode.
With revisions, suggestions, and task designation made easier with a free-flowing mode of communication, employees will be able to get their assignments faster and easier and make them want to work on it sooner.
Encourage video calls
Video call is a luxury that technology has given us which employers can use to their advantage. It can be difficult to work through online messages and emails because it might feel lonely not to see coworkers and employees in person. Simply going by words on the screen attached to a name might lead to employees detaching themselves because of the lack of human connection you usually get from working in together in the office.
This is why it’s important that employers also host video calls with employees to satisfy the social aspect of our human nature and make sure that everyone sees faces attached to voices, rather than just reading messages on a screen. Face-to-face interaction is sadly not an option in this pandemic, but video calls are the closest thing to it right now.
Gitlab suggests intentionality in initiating conversations between coworkers when the spontaneity that can be found in the office isn’t available. Scheduled coffee chats, revive water-cooler conversations, and have a video conference room that is always available for everyone to join in at any time.
Replicate the Workplace Experience
One of the many struggles employees face in this work-from-home setting is that they have a hard time reconciling home and work. The biggest question mark that employers face is how to help their employees integrate a space of work into a space of relaxation? It seems practically impossible, but there are small things employers can encourage to improve employee productivity levels.
Having employees set a designated workspace in their homes, setting actual office hours and schedules, and even having them dress as if they would in the office can push them to do more because of the resemblance to the casual workday. It might seem unnecessary and even a bit silly to do all of this when employees are just spending their days in the house but Holly Hanna, founder of the award-winning blog the Work at Home Woman, says that “This will keep your mindset sharp and focused.”
Another thing is to make sure that employees stay organized. Workspaces tend to get messy, more so when there are no filing cabinets or drawers in a make-shift work area. Lisa Kanarek, the co-founder of WorkingNaked.com, suggests keeping all work-related files and materials in one place that is preferably nowhere near the TV or the bed. The emulation of a true work environment is all about eliminating distractions.
The best thing employers can do is to help their employees create an environment at home that is conducive to work. Some companies have allowed their employees to bring chairs, storage systems, and other essentials from the office to their homes, as many of these companies forsee the work-from-home set up extending until the end of the year. If this is within your capacity, it might be worth a try.
Have Virtual Fun
After a long week of working nonstop and submitting whatever needs to be submitted, it’s refreshing for employees to just be able to let loose and talk to each other to catch up. It might help boost morale and keep employees grounded. Employers can host an end-of-the-week catch up for everyone to chat and have a drink together.
Even if it is an alternative to the typical Friday nights of drinks and casual conversations, bonding is more important now that we are all feeling a bit isolated. Not only does it bring everyone together once in a while, but it also creates a sense of belonging with employees once they realize that they aren’t as alone as they think. Once in a while, every employee needs a reminder that they "aren't just a cog in a machine."
Working from home is a new obstacle that a lot of people are facing right now and it can get challenging to still keep productive when employees are thrust into completely different settings and circumstances, especially those that blur the lines separating relaxation and performance. It is the employers’ job to help employees find their footing and help them adjust to these difficult times, one step at a time.
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