By business author and Purple Cubed founder, Jane Sunley
This blog is available as a podcast. You can listen to it here:
As the current crisis sees millions of people in enforced homeworking, it’s highly likely that the majority of them will be feeling isolated, uncertain and lacking focus; leading to stress, anxiety and demotivation. From a company perspective, it’s quite a challenge to maintain your culture. As a result, collaboration, belonging and engagement will all take a hit. Managing this needs some special thought and planning. First, let’s have a positive moment and think about the potential silver-linings, for example:
- Resilience: OK so it’s not pleasant to have been forced into the current situation, though it will undoubtedly have enabled people to bring to the fore every bit of resilience they have. And that doesn’t go away.
- Change: most people dislike and fear change. Well, we’ve just been catapulted into a major one; surely after this, everything else will be a walk in the park?
- Creativity: people are discovering new ways to work and communicate – there are so many positives we can take forward to ‘life on the other side’.
- Recovery: many people work flat-out in potentially stressful roles and fall into habits of putting themselves last, giving priority to work, family and friends. This has been an opportunity to rest, recharge, have some me-time.
- Thinking: time to think is often treated as a luxury for people with busy lives yet it’s an essential part of success and once you’ve been doing it, it’s a habit that’s, fortunately, hard to break.
- Learning: this is a fantastic opportunity to learn the language you’ve been thinking about for ages, brush up on your guitar skills or start the stuff there never seems to be time for.
Let us know about your silver-linings…and more importantly let your people know yours and encourage them to find theirs.
Aside from finding some positives and encouraging friends, family and colleagues to do the same, here are a few other ideas for keeping your people engaged and connected whilst working in isolation:
- Paint a picture of the future: remind people of your purpose and how you’re all going to work together to help rebuild the economy on the other side of all this. This is a great time to get people involved in planning and to be excited about the contribution they’re going to be able to make.
- Communicate: make sure there are, ideally, daily updates and team get togethers – whether these be work related, social meetings, or one to ones, make these connections over Zoom or by other visual means.
- Reassurance: there are a lot of worried people out there so be clear about what’s happening from the company perspective and how this will affect them.
- Empathise: however challenging it is for you to work at home, chances are that many of your people have a far worse deal. There will be people without a desk/table space, a suitable chair, room to lay out their stuff, family members/flat mates in close proximity etc. Talk to them to see if there’s anything you can do to make things easier.
- Support: make sure everyone knows you’re in a position to provide whatever support, emotional or otherwise, they might need throughout. Sometimes it’s just about knowing someone cares and is there for them…
- Alternative work: if you’re people are furloughed, help them to stay active by volunteering so they can feel a sense of purpose, commitment and satisfaction from helping with the crisis.
- Learning: even with limited resources (you can do it on a smart phone), run some webinar style learning to get people super-upskilled ready for the eventual return to normality.
- Learning (2): there’s tons of free online learning available from studying guitar, drawing, languages, money management right through to how to speed read (very useful) and beyond…
- Exercise: encourage people to do some daily exercise. Again there’s lots of free online stuff out there from Joe Wicks live PE (not just for kids!) to many other styles and types of free exercise or just a (distanced) walk outside.
- Fun stuff: legitimise for non-work-related distractions because everyone needs a break. Ideas include a team virtual party, quizzes, games night, maybe even pay for their Netflix subscriptions and so on…
All of these ideas will help to keep your people engaged in both short and longer terms. People remember empathy, kindness and care – don’t be surprised if satisfaction and loyalty levels rocket as a result…