The outbreak of COVID-19 has presented employers and employees with unprecedented challenges, including the need to transition to a new situation where a large part of the workforce is now working remotely.
For the employer it creates a host of things to take care of: increased bandwidth, safety concerns, maintaining productivity and sales targets and staff morale, to name but a few.
Employees have to be adaptable too. Not everyone has access to a workspace that provides the necessary comfort to work from home every day. For some it may be hard to adjust to the new routine and they might miss the social interaction of being part of a team. That, combined with the uncertainty of how long the situation is likely to last, can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.
The Knauf Group has given instruction that employees who are able to work from home should do so, and has given the following tips to make the transition as smooth as possible:1.) Organise your workspace
Combining your home and work life may be challenging, especially if you haven’t done it before. Knauf suggests having a dedicated space. It is important to organise your environment in a way that the personal and business aspects of your life don’t overlap too much with one another.
It will help switching “off” when you need to stop working, and “on” when it is business time. It also gives clear signal to the people around you that you are working and business privacy needs to be respected.2.) Organise your time
Set your agenda for the work day and plan your day with a start and end time in accordance with the office hours, Knauf suggests. Plan your breaks and allow yourself to disconnect when your work day is over. It’s as important to work five full days a week and have time to rest and recover as always.3.) Dress up!
We don’t suggest wearing a tie when you are working from home, but prepare yourself as you would for a normal working day.
A recent article in The Conversation suggests getting up at the same time every day. Shower, dress for a casual work day, brush your hair and look as presentable as you usually do. This will put you in your normal work mindset. Again it helps to segregate work and non-work hours.4.) Talk to people
One of the most difficult side-effects of social distancing measures is being disconnected from your colleagues and missing out on the social aspect of being part of a team.
Knauf suggests not only writing or texting in your communication, but picking up the phone from time to time. “Take time for small talk – it is more important now than ever,” the Knauf Group suggests in its communique.
The above article in The Conversation supports this, and suggests regular social phone or video calls to your colleagues to stay connected and feel supported.5.) Write right
You may find yourself suddenly communicating in writing more often, and it may take some time getting used to if you are more used to having face-to-face meetings. Knauf suggests always being articulate in your communication and striking a balance between being too informal and formal. Don’t rely on too many emoticons, and don’t be so succinct that the intention of your message becomes unclear!6.) Pick the right media at the right moment for the right purpose
There are various communication possibilities and platforms at your disposal when working remotely – Facebook Messenger, email, Skype, texts, phone calls, Whatsapp… Technology has us spoilt for choice.
Everybody will have their preferred channel and your department might have formed a communication protocol prior to the new measures.
If you don’t have a protocol, Knauf suggests agreeing with your management, peers and direct reports on what channels should be used for specific purposes. As a general rule, avoid copying the whole organisation on emails when it’s not needed and rethink the need to rely on teleconferencing as it may put unnecessary strain on the available bandwidth.7.) Fuel your body and mind
It is more important than ever to maintain healthy eating and drinking habits. Unless you are in a very strict lock-down area, try to get some fresh air by walking outside. Researchers share their interpretation of the latest measures introduced by the Australian Government in this article. And they agree that you may still walk your dog!
Gyms have been closed in accordance with the Government’s latest announcement, but there are many online platforms that can help you to maintain an exercise regime at home.
Fuel your mind by participating in webinars, listening to podcasts, learning online and watching inspirational talks.
8.) Pay attention to your morale and also of others
For some of us it will be easier to cope with this period of self-isolation than others. “Don’t hesitate to share your emotions with a trusted buddy, and don’t hesitate to ask for advice and support,” Knauf advises.
Call your colleagues if you haven’t heard from them in a while; connect, listen and openly discuss any issue. In case you feel some one is in morale distress, inform your HR department.9.) Keep your personal network active
One of the hardest aspects of border restrictions and social distancing is that they often keep families and friends apart. Make it a priority to stay in touch with your relatives, friends and community. Call everybody regularly and be a positive and responsible influencer on the social media.
Nobody knows how long the coronavirus crisis will last, but at least scientists, researchers and world leaders are in agreement that it won’t last forever. The current crisis is likely to have short-term, medium-term and long-term effects, and we don’t know yet what they will be. But things will get better. Keep an eye on the restrictions announced by the authorities, comply and please remain safe!
For Knauf Australia’s latest COVID-19 updates click here.