Recently, a majority of employers in Canada opted to implement work-from-home (WFH) policies as part of social distancing to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19—which meant that many employees became remote workers practically overnight.
And whether most of your workforce has WFH experience or not, you can help ensure your suddenly-remote team feels wholly supported by you in these challenging times. Here’s what we recommend to help employees working remotely:
1) Schedule virtual check-ins
If you have any direct reports, schedule weekly 1:1s with them to get updates on projects, any blockers and get a general sense of how it’s going for each member of your team.
Some team members may not have access to a webcam or feel pressured to clean up their home before taking a video call so ask your employee if they’re more comfortable with a phone or video call before scheduling it. Remember, it’s important to be as flexible as possible so even if you’d prefer one method, take your employee’s feedback into consideration.
Use Zoom, Google Hangouts or similar software for your virtual check-ins.
2) Offer to purchase home office equipment
If your team has only worked in the office until now, chances are some of them may not have a reliable home office setup. You might find one employee is using their dining table as a makeshift desk and another can only work on their couch because their dining table is being used by their spouse or kids.
Budget permitting, offer to purchase home office equipment to help your employees get their work done in the most ergonomic way possible. If you’re not supplying everyone with work laptops, see if you can make that happen. Otherwise, ask your employees if they need anything and suggest items to them (noise-cancelling headphones, a new keyboard, a vertical mouse) to get the conversation going.
You should also consider paying the difference for higher internet speed if you get the sense your employee could do with an upgrade while working from home.
3) Suggest online career development
Day-to-day operations can often get in the way of career development and learning, with employees focused on the next task and the next and the next.
Now is a good opportunity to ask your team if there are any online courses, webinars or books they’d find useful for professional career development. If yes, pay for them and give your employees time during the workday to spend on career development.
Ultimately, their newfound knowledge and skills benefit you too.
4) Understand that productivity may drop
Employees working remotely have had to adapt to working from home with little or no notice. They may have kids, pets or a loud upstairs neighbour that might interrupt them at any moment and break their focus.
Being understanding at this time shows your employees you see them as people, not bodies in chairs. Obviously, any essential work should continue to be completed but if you have any non-urgent projects that could be put on the backburner, consider lightening the load on your team.
Alternatively, you might have projects that no one ever gets around to. Why not assign one or two to your team for a change of pace?
5) Offer flexible work hours
Requiring that your employees work the same hours at home as they did in the office may not be the best approach in current circumstances.
Consider allowing your team more flexibility, such as early morning starts at 7am or longer breaks throughout the day with work done in the evenings as well. Adopt a “as long as the work is done in a day” policy to show your employees you trust and value them.
Be as flexible as possible now and your employees won’t be the ones looking for a new job once we all return to the office.