How can companies support their employees during the covid-19 outbreak
Working from home has become a temporary new normal for many but the need to help staff with the transition and offer them support, as well as flexibility, has never been as important, a Douglas-based management and mentoring consultancy believes.
The Auxesia group of companies is among many firms where employees are being allowed to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet caring for the workforce as they face the challenges of juggling family commitments and adapting to a new remote work environment is key.
Belinda Watson, Finance Director at Auxesia, says it’s important to recognise individuals may need additional guidance and support in the coming months.
‘Employers, employees, family members, friends - these are really challenging times for everyone and it looks like we are going to have to change the way that we live and interact for a significant period,’ she explained.
‘Of course, it’s not just working parents who are challenged during this surreal time. Staff whose own parents may be vulnerable are also under tremendous amounts of stress right now.
‘Yes, business continuity and the ability to work remotely and flexibly is imperative in this period of economic uncertainty. But looking at the bigger picture, the foundation of any company is its people so employers need to understand their needs and support them as they deal with heightened anxiety about balancing work and home responsibilities.
‘Companies that navigate this situation with compassion and common sense will be better positioned.’
The Auxesia group of companies, which has operated in the Isle of Man for 11 years, says there needs to be an awareness of the demands that mixing home and work life can place on mental health, whilst some staff will not respond well to working through an extended period of isolation.
That includes using resources to support employees through difficult times and keep the communication channels open.
‘There is no one-size-fits all for this,’ added Belinda.
‘Isolation can be an issue for people who live alone, and who usually rely on coming into the office for a significant part of their daily social interaction. Likewise, the morale and general wellbeing of staff can be affected when they have to work from home for an extended period.
‘While we cannot connect with others in person, team meetings and catch-ups over online platforms such as Skype, Zoom or FaceTime can really maintain some sense of community and inform them of any changes that are happening across the business whilst coronavirus is active.
‘Additionally management and business leaders can draw on a number of principles, techniques and theories to introduce new best practice. For example, drawing on the Swedish Fika principle encourages employees to take well-timed breaks to provide clarity of thought and increase productivity.
‘In many ways, it is important to spend time on regular team and individual catch-ups more frequently than if you were all together in the office so employees need to keep in touch, whether through social media platforms, or on the phone, Keeping in touch, providing colleagues with that sense of belonging as well as a renewed focus.
‘We would always say try and maintain a routine, keep active and flag if you are struggling. As a community we all need to do our best to try and get through this together, finding alternatives that work for the time being and supporting our wellbeing along the way.’