The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted normal life in a million ways, not least for the huge number of people who have found themselves working from home. Without the usual infrastructure of the office, employees can find home working a real challenge. One survey from RTE found that 44% of those currently working from home are putting in longer hours than usual; with 21% unable to draw a clear work-life boundary and switch off from work. Many revealed that they were distracted by domestic tasks during their work time, while 79% of employees agreed that they missed their usual working environment. The sense of community that working with colleagues provides was the main reason people were missing the office. Despite innovative use of technology making many jobs possible remotely, employers must implement strategies to help their employees deal with the logistical and emotional challenges that working from home presents.
Employers should encourage workers to implement a set routine, but should be clear that this routine can be adaptable to deal with the specific needs of home working. Clear timetables certainly minimize stress, but are unlikely to look like the usual office schedule. For instance, a home working parent may need to put in the majority of their hours after their child’s bedtime. If employees can be open about their new requirements, their colleagues can adapt their expectations and schedules to coordinate and maintain efficiency.
Employees are likely to be facing inconvenient and uncomfortable impromptu workspaces. Employers should make sure their employees are well informed about the health and safety implications of working from sofas and beds, and encourage the creation of a dedicated work area wherever possible. This is also important in order to maintain the work / life boundary; a work area should not impinge on areas that are for relaxing. Employers should help workers review their home work space and encourage a separate working area that allows for good posture.
With physical distance, good communication becomes even more important. Employers should make it clear that they are still readily available to workers, and frequent meetings are a must in order to support productive and healthy remote working. Newer employees may need higher levels of support, having not yet fully adapted to your company’s way of doing things. There is a balance to be found between keeping your team in close communication, and overwhelming their time with video conferences and messages. Some people will thrive more than others in an independent working enviroment. It is the employers job to be sensitive to each person’s individual needs, and gauge the level of involvement that suits them best. Part of great communication is being able to communicate that space to get on with things is needed! Remain flexible and responsive to your employees needs; keep in touch and listen to their feedback.
Working remotely has become the new normal to the extent that companies cannot afford to treat this time as a period of treading water. Consider the development and training you would usually be offering employees. Is it possible to continue this online? It is widely recognised that companies invest in employees in this way because it improves employee productivity. Productivity when working remotely is fundamental to a company’s success.
For most, working from home is a big adjustment. Employees are likely juggling many huge changes in their lives at this time; from caring responsibilities, to partners who are also trying to create a home work place in limited space. Employers are increasingly recognising that they have a responsibility to encourage good mental health in their workforce. With the pandemic, this has become essential. Employers might encourage employees to use fitness apps or guided mediation sessions; virtual counselling and time away from work could also be offered. Making a clear statement of awareness of the challenges your employees are facing could go a long way to encouraging morale and team spirit during this problematic time.
CareerWise is Ireland’s leading specialist recruitment firm, based in Cork, Shannon, Galway, Mayo and Dublin and we can help you to find your ideal new job in Ireland. We specialise in the Engineering, Supply Chain, Science/Pharma, IT and Accounting industries in Ireland, and we look forward to working with you. Contact us online now or call us on +353 (0) 21 206 1900 to arrange a consultation.
Ken Murphy graduated from University College Cork in 1987 with an Electrical Engineering degree before moving to the US as a Network Design Engineer with BellSouth Corporation. His return to Ireland in 1989 heralded a career which concentrated on the multinational sector, and involved working with companies such as Apple Computer, Cabletron, FMC Automotive, Moog, General Semiconductor and Technicolor.
Ken is a specialist in quality management, purchasing, logistics and supply chain management. He has significant expertise and experience in managing the changing demands of the global media, electronics and automotive sectors at operational and project management levels.
Ken leads CareerWise Recruitment’s Cork operations. He has served on local and national committees of IPICS (The Supply Chain Management Institute), CIPD, the Cork Electronics Industry Association (CEIA), and has completed a three-year term as Chair of the UCC Alumni Board.
Ken has recently been elected as a Director of the Cork Chamber for a four year term to help promote business and drive policy objectives for the Cork Region
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