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Engaging the Workplace Part 2: Employee Considerations
With the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine being administered in Europe and the U.S., there is some light at the end of the tunnel as it relates to the coronavirus. That being said, many experts predict it’ll likely be summer before most of the population is vaccinated.
While we’re all eager to get back to some semblance of normalcy, it’s important to recognize that employees are still navigating the complexities wrought by the pandemic and will be for some time. For that reason, it’s important to keep employees in mind as your company plans its return to the workplace. The following aspects cover core staff elements, but there are likely others relevant to your business and operations.
The extent to which your employees can work remotely will be somewhat dependent on job function, and the available technology to support remote work. But those shouldn’t be the only considerations. With daycares and schools closing, whether due to an outbreak or as a cautionary measure, some employees may need to be home to care for young children or oversee virtual learning. Other employees may need to be home to care for a sick family member or quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure. State and local mandates restricting in-person work to only those deemed essential may also be in play. All these elements need to be factored into your current remote work strategy. Taking time to learn from your employees about their views of remote work will help inform your long-term planning.
Personal Work Environment
For many working from home, productivity isn’t likely to be at its prime. Optimizing the home office environment of your employees can make great strides in improving focus and output. For the best return on investment consider upgrading foundational elements, like desks that are adjustable and ergonomic chairs. Smaller upgrades, such as better task lighting, footrests, monitor stands, and similar items are also smart, thoughtful improvements to consider. Check out our COVID Procurement Guide for a selection of items we’ve identified as an important part of a robust work-from-home strategy. Contact us if you’re interested in sourcing any of these items or would like custom recommendations. We have access to a wide variety of options at competitive prices.
Health and Wellbeing
An increase in stress and anxiety, which many employees are feeling, requires an increase in support and resources. The logical place to start is with your existing employee assistance programs and health insurance plans. Clearly communicate what’s available to your employees and encourage them to leverage these services as needed.
Don’t hesitate to bring in additional wellness coaching, events, and programming. Doing so not only shows employees you care, but can also help make them more resilient, improve their immunity, and increase their ability to cope, all of which can pay dividends in their job performance.
Access to Nature
The saying goes that “nature is the best medicine” and a growing body of research is proving this to be true. Being in nature is shown to have both physical and mental health benefits. As you ease back into the workplace, help your employees reap these perks by creating green spaces around your office. If you already have green spaces, are they easy to access? Are they set up so people can spend time working, eating, or networking in them (physically distanced and masked, per guidelines)? For help with landscaping, outdoor access, or optimizing your existing outdoor spaces, contact us. We’re happy to put our expertise to work for you, whether that means starting from scratch or working with what you already have.
Since the onset of the coronavirus, employees and employers have both had to adapt as restrictions and recommendations change. Continue to be flexible, especially with the needs of your employees. Doing so will go a long way toward easing stress and anxiety, increasing engagement, and improving retention — all things that benefit both parties.
Your employees are the backbone of your enterprise. Now, more than ever, they need your guidance, support, and understanding. Nurture their needs by working through these considerations, and you’ll truly have something to celebrate when the pandemic is over — fulfilled, loyal employees.
This is the second post in our “Re-Engaging the Workplace” series, which looks at strategic ways organizations can safely, responsibly, and supportively bring employees back to the office. Read our first post, “Physical Space Considerations,” and come back later this month for a new post.