Work from Home at the time of Covid-19

How progressive companies can help their employees in a Covid-19 environment

Covid-19 has been with us for over two quarters and none knows how long it will last. What we know for sure is that the social distancing and forced WFH that it has lead is generating a lot of stress on human resources.

Here are some ideas that smart progressive employers should follow and invest behind to alleviate the pain that employees are experiencing.

1) Involve more employees in group chats and discussions to share ideas and initiatives. Make sure people are invited but also understand that contributions are expected. This should be reinforced by frequent one on one check ins with the direct supervisors. Be aware of new joiners that may find themselves more at a loss due to non traditional onboarding linked to the current situation. Learning things online is not always easy for somebody that knows little about the organization and its people.

2) Assign peer support from experienced individuals that are both outgoing/optimistic as well as good at problem solving.

3) Organize casual team offsite events virtually to facilitate socialization and provide context. Encourage to keep work related topics off the agenda (especially when supervisors participate).

4) Stress the benefits of working remotely (such as better work life balance, no lost time in commutes, more informal environment…) and encourage team work through best practice sharing (dealing with children, interruptions, clear boundaries with private time…).

5) Encourage supervisors to have their own group chats to learn from each other how to best deal with the new environment.

6) Initiate or increase the frequency of company-wide webinars where top management updates on company status, financials and initiatives. While always being honest and open, the tone used as well as the long term perspective provided by the top can make a big difference towards the sense of job security that lots of associates are lacking nowadays.

7) Work in teams => create virtual cooperation rooms and encourage participation. Make sure there are collaboration tools that facilitate team work as well as resources available for those that need support but don’t know where to ask or are shy to ask. Make initiatives and communication as fun as possible.

8) Have top management role model a more casual environment during company-wide webinars and social media posts. Train supervisors to keep a loose leash and be more tolerant about possibly unorthodox online behaviors (yes we all made mistakes of not muting our mic or not putting the do not disturb sign in front of the door of our room!)

9) Invest in WFH tools! Office supplies, broadband internet, tool repairs, allowance for home office space and utilities are all critical.

10) If your company will continue working remotely (not opening offices), allow for co-working space allowance so people can interact and have more space or privacy for calls than they can’t do from home.

11) Last and most important: trust your employees. Treat them like adults and encourage them to focus on results rather than perceived efforts based on hours logged. Such a message must come straight from the top. It is role-modeled every day and reinforced through the supervisory chain.

Michele Volpi has been CEO and Board member in several listed and private equity MNCs and is the founder of tal&dev, an online talent development platform that is improving the way individuals and employers deal with talent management

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August 28, 2020

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