Social distancing, self-isolation and encouraging working from home where possible are just three of the tactics that governments across the world have employed to help slow the rate of infection of COVID-19. At Sirius we have been following government guidance and trusting that this unprecedented action flattens the curve and allows life to return to some kind of normality as quickly as possible.
With such a changed working environment, it is hard to maintain business as usual, a good work-life balance, and positive mental health and wellbeing. We are all discovering working from home presents challenges. Many will feel lonely and isolated, some will feel demotivated by the lack of structure and routine, others will miss the face to face communication and reassurance that they get from a normal day to day working environment. As a result, physical and psychological wellbeing can suffer and therefore we all need to do what we can to ensure resilience and look after one another.
With this in mind, I’ve put together some tips and ideas for those managing people throughout this unprecedented crisis and laid out below some steps for leaders and managers to consider. Please do share any additional tips and ideas in the comments. We are all in this together and everyone is learning on a day to day basis.
Put Health and Wellbeing First
It goes without saying that the top priority for every business during this crisis should be protecting the health of its workforce, its customers and the broader community. This means taking whatever steps possible to protect people’s physical health as well as helping to slow the spread of the virus. It also means that we all have a responsibility to check in on team members, asking them how they are, how their families are and if there’s anything we can lend a hand with. Not every conversation has to be about work. I think we should all be trying to continue and replicate some of the conversations that we might be having at the water cooler or over a coffee.
Build a Virtual Workplace
In some ways we are lucky to be living through this crisis now and not in previous years. Recent developments in modern technology and home working have fundamentally changed the ability of many to work from home. For many in central corporate functions all that is needed is a laptop, access to file sharing systems, a mobile phone and an internet connection. Moving away from email as the only form of communication is particularly important. I have found using messaging apps and videoconferencing in particular are useful ways to replace the face to face conversations I usually have with people.
Plan for Productivity
Try and speak to the people you manage as much as possible. I have been encouraging our managers to chat through the daily plan of action at their morning check in with team members and setting small tasks and goals for the day. We’ve been utilising a Fast Start Plan approach at Sirius. This means envisaging your first day back at the office and thinking through what needs to be done and what could have been done during the period of working from home. We’ve found that this approach helps people to consider more of the sorts of tasks that can be completed remotely.
Needless to say as the next few weeks and possibly months progress we all need to continue to support each other, adapt to the changing situation and learn from each other on how best to weather this storm. Nobody has all the answers but I have been tremendously impressed and encouraged as to how all Sirius employees have adapted to the current situation.
If anybody has any ideas, thoughts or reflections on how to manage and adapt through the Covid crisis I’d love to hear them.