Adapting To A New Normal: Helping Employees Adjust to Remote Work
By Jonathan Elbaz - April 13, 2020
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the nature of how employees conducted their work was already changing rapidly. Remote working was becoming more commonplace and the need for organizations to keep employees connected and engaged was of critical importance.
While many employees in today’s workplace are work from home veterans, the conventional rules and expectations associated with working remotely no longer apply. Throughout this pandemic many employees, now void of their daily commute, have less free time rather than more as they struggle to homeschool their children and provide support to their families – all while grappling with the added anxiety that accompanies a massive disruption to their way of life.
As employees work to adapt to this new normal, organizations can take steps to further support them on the journey:
Go All in When It Comes to Offering Support
We’ve already seen organizations like Facebook and Shopify begin to take steps to offer their employees stipends aimed at ensuring that they have what they need to work from home – regardless of whether these expenses are professional or personal. Now, more than ever, organizations need to ensure that their employees feel supported – not simply by providing them with the tools and systems required to continue to do their jobs, but especially by ensuring that they have the ability to put their families first during this crisis.
Cultivate an Environment of Understanding and Flexibility
As collaboration takes on a new meaning and employees touch work at different times from different places, leaders will need to ensure that they are creating a culture where employees can openly and safely define how and when they do their jobs. New ways of working may not be seamless, but it’s critical that organizations establish a culture where people can continue to adapt and try new things without fear of reprisal or negative feedback.
Employees are more resilient and productive when they feel safe. While cultivating a feeling of safety may be more challenging than ever, the rewards are especially important and will help to forge a lasting sense of trust.
Drive Open and Candid Dialogue
Given the uncertainty both at home and in the marketplace, employees are looking for added clarity around their job stability, how they will continue to do meaningful work, and what their role may look like in several months’ time. While leaders may not have all the answers to these critical questions, it’s vital that they maintain open and ongoing dialogue with their employees and share whatever information they have in a timely and compassionate manner.
In this new age, open-door policies may need to be replaced with video chats, instant messaging, or regularly scheduled check-ins that accommodate evolving work schedules. Regardless of how communication unfolds, it’s more important than ever for leaders to stay close to their teams and ensure that employees have a forum to voice their thoughts and concerns.
We Are All in This Together
Companies who treat their employees with empathy, compassion, and a sense of understanding will be most likely to see increases in engagement and commitment following this crisis. This may mean different approaches depending on industry or type of work performed, but underscores that the human element of business is more important today than ever before.