It's been several months since the COVID-19 pandemic led governments across the globe to issue stay-at-home orders, leading to businesses to close their offices and requiring their employees to work from their homes. During that time, we've figured out some of the practical issues with remote working. Companies now understand which SaaS tools they should use, for instance, and how to communicate effectively at a distance.
Also, productivity has stayed high, serving to dislodge the one obstacle that has held back the remote working option for over a decade — fear that it will lead to employee laziness and reduced profitability. It means that the business world won't ever return to relying entirely on the classic office setup. Remote working is here to stay.
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Not all the wrinkles are ironed out, though. Companies may know how to keep their employees productive, but what about keeping them content? The time in isolation has undoubtedly affected a lot of people who relied on social structures both personally and professionally — and an unhappy employee will eventually become an unproductive one.
In this post, we're going to look at some handy ways you can empower your team of remote-working employees to support themselves, helping them to stay content. Here we go:
Fund some relevant VIRTUAL training and coaching
Just as it's essential to commit some resources to equip your employees with reliable home offices, paying for things like office chairs and ergonomic keyboards, it's also vital to help them out with resources to support their mental and physical health. That's where training sessions and coaching services become extremely useful.
You can find training courses on everything from nutrition to exercise, and they're particularly useful at the moment with gyms closed everywhere (and so many people reluctant to return to them when that changes). Talk to your employees to find out what might interest them, then set out some options so they can choose for themselves.
As for coaching services, they're much better for dealing with mental health issues. There are services geared towards personal goals (Orion's Method, for instance, invites the participant to get inspired and start living a stellar life). Check out resources dedicated to furthering career development.
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Encourage them to socialize together.
Teams might work well together without forming any social bonds — and while there's nothing inherently wrong with that, the absence of meaningful work relationships can have deleterious effects on those who don't otherwise socialize that much. Accordingly, if you're confident that your team members could be friends, then you should make an effort to encourage it.
Some organizations pair people to learn and support each other. It's a formal program designed to help them lean on each other.
Allow them some time during the workday to talk about non-work-related topics. Find creative projects on which they can team up in fresh combinations because you can never know what relationship can form. Even if they don't start socializing outside of your proposed sessions, they can become more comfortable with one another, making them more likely to turn to one another for support when they need it.
Reward them for showing initiative
If you want people to support themselves well in general, it's good to encourage them to help themselves professionally. I'm not saying that you should retract all your direct support and leave all your employees to handle everything themselves — instead, push them to show initiative, and back them when they do.
You could, for instance, stop telling people how to do projects and give them objectives. Allow them to choose how they achieve them, then review the results and provide feedback. If everything went well, let them know. If things went poorly, explain to them how they could have done better, and give them opportunities to redeem themselves.
Learning that they don't need to come to you for support with everything will have a knock-on effect, pushing them to take more ownership in general. When team members need to make big decisions to support themselves (reaching out when they're feeling depressed, for instance), they'll be much more likely to take action.
Show that you're looking after yourself.
Lastly, a big part of being a leader is understanding the precedent you set for everyone who works under you. It's great to tell everyone to look after themselves, but if you're not looking after yourself, then that message will be completely undermined. Due to this, you have to set a great example by showing everyone that you're committed to your wellbeing.
Talk about your exercise routines (if you have any). Explain your dietary choices. Detail your efforts to meditate or deal with your stress in other ways. And when you mess up, don't be ashamed to admit it. We all make mistakes: what matters is that we learn from them and try again. The more you open up to your team, the stronger they'll become.
Empowering your team members to look after themselves as capably as possible is an excellent investment in the future of your business. Having happy and healthy workers will keep productivity high and maximize employee retention — so make this a priority.