By now, most of the workforce is self-quarantining, social distancing, and working from home. In addition, many parents are taking on the responsibility of homeschooling their children. These unexpected changes are proving to be a challenge for many employees.
The top priority of employers is the health and safety of their workforce; however, many executives are still worried their organization’s finances and profitability will suffer as employees manage tasks remotely. Several studies have proven workers to be just as productive, if not more, while working from home rather than working from the office.
With the right tools and mindset, successfully working from home amid the COVID-19 outbreak is possible.
Strategies to help keep your team productive and motivated
- Have a routine – Working from home is all about mental preparation, suggests CNN. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends sticking to your usual routine as best as possible to help reduce stress and anxiety. This means getting up at the same time, showering, and preparing for the day ahead.
- Get dressed – “If you don’t get ready for the day, the day never really starts,” explains Brian Barrett, the (remote) digital director for Wired. A study revealed the clothing we wear has a greater impact on our thinking than we may think. In fact, wearing formal clothing is connected to better cognitive and creative thinking.
- Create a workstation – whether it’s the kitchen counter or coffee table, setting up your workstation will help you focus throughout the day. Pro tip: don’t make your workstation your bed. Doing so can decrease sleep quality because your brain will be used to associating your bed with work tasks. Instead, try setting up your workstation at the dining room table, kitchen counter, or a low coffee table. When you work in the same spot each day, your brain naturally starts to associate that spot with productivity, explains Laura Mae Martin, Google’s internal productivity advisor.
- Communication is key – now is the time to take your communication skills to the next level, says the Detroit Regional Chamber. There is an abundance of communication programs that make connecting with coworkers fast and easy. If your company doesn’t already have one installed, here are some options.
- Prep your snacks – stress eating is a real issue for many and working from home means snacks are only a few steps away. The same way you prep lunches for the office, set aside snacks to grab when in need. If you’re in need of something crunchy to munch on, grab the baby carrots and not the kettle chips. Veggies with hummus, fruit, nuts, and yogurt make great healthy snacks that are easy to prep. Having more control over your stress eating habits will have a positive effect on your mental health and well-being.
- Get some fresh air – work-form-home-experts recommend going outside a few times throughout the day. Staying cooped up in the same place all day can be mind-numbing. Short walks around the block are great for mental clarity.
- Set boundaries – One of the biggest challenges when working from home is the separation between work life and home life. While you may have a hefty workload, it is vital that you maintain your regular work hours. When it’s time to sign off, declare an end to your day and stick to it- turning the computer off and walking away is a good strategy. This will help avoid additional stress and burnout.
You have the power and responsibility to help your workforce through this challenging time:
Develop a COVID-19 team – Harvard Business Review recommends creating a crisis-response team of five to seven employees to meet regularly and serve as the main source of information for the organization. The team should consist of leadership team members, someone from corporate communications, an HR executive, and an expert in the area of public health.
Increase communication with staff – organize weekly conference calls with all staff to discuss latest developments, your company’s response, and answer questions.
Be transparent and reassuring – Studies have shown that company leadership has an important role in reducing employee anxiety. Your goal is to ease tension, provide support, and reassure everyone that they are safe.
For additional tools to help navigate communication visit the Wellness Works COVID-19 toolkits.
If you are a parent, here are great strategies to successfully work from home with kids.
We’re all in this together. Encourage employees to stay positive, embrace the new flexibility, and support one another during challenging times. If you or someone you know if having a particularly hard time adjusting, regional mental health resources might be able to help.
The Detroit Regional Chamber launched a COVID-19 Business Resource Center. View ongoing updates and resources at detroitchamber.com/covid19.