Adjusting to a new way of working involves a learning curve in the best of circumstances, and when you add the stress of a pandemic to the process it can mean employees struggle to keep up.
Technology can sometimes be a double-edged sword. Although it allows employees and managers to communicate and stay up to date with projects, it can also present a multitude of distractions that get in the way of productivity.
This is especially true as remote workers are deluged with incoming news about the coronavirus crisis. Adjusting to a new way of working involves a learning curve in the best of circumstances, and when you add the stress of a pandemic to the process it can mean employees struggle to keep up.
Here are several strategies you and your employees can employ to reduce and avoid distractions while working from home during this crisis.
HOW MANAGERS CAN HELP
1. Lead by Example
Managers should do what they can to acknowledge the severity of the situation without adding to their employees’ stress levels.
Carrying on with work as normally as possible is a good first step, but managers should also try to be understanding when setbacks arise.
Working from home can leave employees who are used to an office environment feeling adrift, so you should establish ground rules for communication early.
For example, you can have daily calls or video conferences to check in, and then use IM or Workplace Chat for more time-sensitive questions and communications.
2. Maintain I.T. Security
Although health is rightly the main concern right now, cybersecurity should not be neglected just because everyone is working from home. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are using the crisis to steal personal data by preying on people’s fears.
To combat scammers, make sure everyone in your company receives security training to combat phishing and other threats. It’s also vital to ensure that your employees’ personal devices and internet connections are secure.
Work with your I.T. department or managed service provider to put security protocols in place for remote workers.
3. Help Employees Adjust
A proactive way to get ahead of any technical problems related to the switch to working remotely is to make sure employees are all up to speed on the technology you’ll be using.
If you need to meet using Zoom, for example, work with your I.T. team to put together a brief tutorial so everyone is on the same page.
A daily video call check-in with team members, either individually or as a group, can help maintain a routine and give everyone a chance to raise concerns.
4. Remind Employees of Available Resources
In a time of increased stress, it’s important to foster a sense of community to help employees cope. This could be something as simple as starting a Workplace group where people can vent and share pictures of their pets.
If your company’s insurance covers mental health care, you should also encourage employees to take advantage of those services—and possibly do so yourself as well.
In stressful times, anxiety is a totally normal response, so make sure everyone at your company has the support they need.
5. Keep Safety in Mind
Although it can be inconvenient if you’re not used to it, working from home is the safest course available. It might disrupt your workplace’s routine and sense of normalcy in the short term, but in the long run it could save lives. This is the most important thing to remember as you help your team adjust to new working conditions.
WHAT INDIVIDUALS CAN DO TO ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS
1. Keep Work Separate
When working from home, it’s easy to let your work life and personal life begin to blur. However, you should maintain a setup that allows you to focus on work during normal business hours and leave it behind at the end of the day, just as you would if you were at the office.
Maintaining the same schedule as you would if you were going in to work goes a long way. Another method is working in an area of your home that you do not typically use for leisure activities.
2. Stay Off Social Media
It can be tempting to constantly refresh Twitter for updates or check in on friends and relatives via Facebook, but constant exposure to social media will only amplify your stress levels.
Try keeping your phone out of reach so you aren’t tempted to check notifications, and assign a specific time for using social media when you aren’t working.
Alternatively, you can mute terms related to COVID-19 on Twitter or Instagram to avoid seeing constant updates.
3. Turn Off Notifications and Google Alerts
If you have a Google Alert or other notification set up to inform you about coronavirus news, it could be helpful to turn it off when you are meant to be working.
As information continues to come to light, some of it contradictory, keeping track of the news can be a full-time job that leaves little mental space for other tasks.
If you find you’re having trouble concentrating throughout the day, a bit less exposure to anxiety-inducing news can help.
4. Establish Clear Communication
If you’re used to discussing projects in person throughout the day, switching to online communication can present unforeseen headaches. For example, you might feel like the tone you wanted to convey didn’t quite translate to email. This is normal, and your colleagues are all probably struggling with the same things.
Try to be as upfront and clear as possible in written communications to make sure you’re getting information across.
5. Structure Your Time
Maintaining a routine is important to keeping a sense of normalcy. Try to work at roughly the same time as you would during any normal workday.
Working from home means that it can be difficult to decide when to get out of “work mode,” so you should set clear boundaries and maintain a set schedule so you can enjoy relaxation time. In addition, you should make time for activities you enjoy outside of work to prevent burnout.
Keeping your I.T. running securely and effectively while working from home is a challenge many companies find themselves suddenly facing. For more information about how managed services can help, call 844-44-JMARK, email us at [email protected] or use the Contact Us page of our website.
Looking for more resources to facilitate your work during the COVID-19 pandemic? Visit our Ultimate COVID-19 and Remote Workforce Business Resource Collection.
And don’t miss our invaluable Remote Workforce Mobilization Handbook.