Helping your Employees Manage the Challenges of Working from Home

Dad taking work calls at home with his child on the floor nearby

What was once considered a perk or a dream working arrangement, working from home has now become a reality for millions of employees around the nation. And while there are many benefits—think increased productivity and engagement—there are also many challenges of working from home your employees could be facing, such as feeling isolated, lonely and disconnected from others.

But, as many employees across Australia enter their ninth month of working from home, it can be tempting to think that your employees have got the hang of it, and have overcome any challenges with their current working arrangements. And while that may be the case for some of your employees, unfortunately for others, the novelty of working from home could be wearing thin, along with their motivation and engagement levels. As a result, it’s important to continue taking the steps to ensure all your employees are supported in their remote roles and managing any challenges of working from home they could be facing.

In this blog, we will discuss four ways you can help you keep your employees engaged, motivated and satisfied in their roles while they continue to work from home into the new year.

1. Communication is key
Regularly communicating with your remote team is essential for building close relationships and keeping your team productive while working from home. At the minimum, schedule a weekly team meeting where everyone can meet to discuss what they are currently working on. This time can not only help your team feel more connected with each other and less isolated in their roles, but it can also help brew new and innovative ideas.

For some of your employees, a weekly meeting may not be enough to help them feel less disconnected from others. As a result, it can be a good idea to also have a group chat with your team where everyone can instantly send messages, ask questions and even brainstorm ideas.

You can even use the chat to discuss non-work topics, such as a new book or TV show someone recommends, or what everyone’s weekend activities were. Giving your employees a platform to regularly and spontaneously communicate with each other without being in a scheduled meeting can be a great way to maintain those close working relationships, and help your employees feel more engaged.

2. Get creative with team bonding activities
While working from home eliminates the chances of spontaneous coffee runs or scheduled after work drinks with your employees, thanks to the advancement of technology, there are other creative ways you can continue to bond with your team. For example, scheduling in a weekly virtual morning coffee catchup, virtual Friday happy hour, or a virtual team lunch are great ways to give your employees time to have informal and casual conversations with each other.

If it’s difficult to find additional time in your team’s calendar, consider extending your team meetings by 15 minutes to give your employees time to catch up with each other. Ensuring your team has time to continue to virtually bond with each other while still working from home can help your employees continue to feel connected with their colleagues and the business as a whole.
3. Keep your employees updated on the company’s performance

46% of employers who have worked for their employer between 1 and 5 years say they're concerned about future job loss. Source: Mervcorp

If you don’t provide your employees with monthly or quarterly updates on the company’s performance, it could be a good idea to start. Being transparent with your employees about how successful (or challenging) the recent month or quarter has been can help them feel more involved with the business and possibly, more secure about their jobs. After all, earlier this month, we discovered that 46%* of workers who have worked for their employer between 1 and 5 years say they’re concerned about future job loss. Therefore, keeping your employees updated on the company’s performance can go a long way in helping reduce the stress and challenges of working from home during a pandemic.

If it’s not possible to regularly share the financial position of your company, make sure to celebrate your wins—no matter how small. For example, celebrate when your website achieves its monthly traffic goal early, when your sales team onboards a new client, and even when your new advertisement goes live. Whatever success looks like for your business, share it with your employees so they feel more confident and reassured about their jobs.

4. Give your employees the resources to create a comfortable workstation
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is the lack of separation between work life and home life—especially if your employees don’t have a designated work station. While it is not possible to dictate where your employees choose to work in their homes, it’s also important not to assume that everyone has a proper workstation set up. As a result, if possible, give your employees the opportunity to create an adequate workspace to help them perform their best while working from home.

This could include a one-time stipend allocated to each employee to buy equipment such as a desk, office chair, monitor, lamp, etc. If this is not feasible, another way you can help your employees create a workstation in their homes is by allowing them to come into an office at a designated day and time to take home some of their equipment from their desk—such as their monitor and chair. But, make sure it is safe for your employees to come into the office, and adhere to social distancing measures and COVID-19 restrictions set in your state at all times.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, and these changes are not likely to go anywhere anytime soon. So it’s important to continue helping your employees maintain their mental health and overcome any challenges of working from home during the pandemic and beyond. Keep an eye out for tell-tale signs of stress and anxiety, and implement these tips to help instil confidence in your employees and keep them engaged, motivated and happy in their roles.

Want more ideas on how to help your employees manage the challenges of working from home? Download our ebook, Navigating Hiring and Managing a Remote Workforce.

*The survey was conducted by Mevcorp on behalf of Indeed between 17-21 September 2020, and surveyed 966 Australian workers aged between 18 and 65.

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