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Times are tough. While COVID-19 effects the daily lives of everyone around the globe in countless ways, employers are finding more and more dire need to keep employees, partners, and other stakeholders safe, active, engaged, and productive.

The workforce who are working from the safety of their homes are keeping their health preserved – which is priority number one. However, maintaining focus and engagement may prove to be a challenge for some.

It’s important for companies to take action, by actively communicating and getting creative to keep morale up, stress low, and productivity high.

Openly Communicate

Business-as-usual does not have to mean lack of communication. It’s important to keep teams updated. Even if everything is (for the most part) status quo, it’s vital for employees to hear from the company more regularly than usual. People will want to know that things are okay, or even if that they aren’t. They’ll want to hear the company’s take on the environment and what it might mean for the business. Many may have questions they’re afraid to ask and could be encouraged to.

Along with just COVID-related communication, teams may be finding it more difficult than usual to operate normally. Information and developments that are otherwise easy to pick up in-person might miss the radar of a remote workforce. This makes team, divisional, even company all-hands meeting as important as ever (virtually of course). Consider adding more items to the agenda, perhaps even repeating information that’s already been shared. Making these meetings more frequent than usual is also a good idea.

Encourage Check-ins

In addition to team and company check-ins, personal touch-base is more significant now than usual. Encouraging managers to regularly check in with their individual team members ensures a connection that could otherwise be missed. Connecting on a personal level is more important now than it has been in quite a while. Many managers find themselves with more of a therapist has than usual, checking temperatures and helping teams through a strange and difficult time.

Some employees may need more managerial guidance than what’s afforded in a remote environment. Some may have personal concerns and reservations to share which they may not want aired in a more public team meeting. Encouraging dialogue and empathy can go a long way.

Be Flexible

Disengagement or lack of productivity can occur due to fear, complacency, or other psychological factors. But for some, more of a timing factor makes their days more difficult.

Strange times call for flexible measures. Kids at home, errands to run, and other life factors can get in the way of an otherwise uninterrupted daily schedule. The current situation differs from the norm, thus flexibility to confirm to a new (albeit temporary norm) is important and can lead to value.

Considering unorthodox working hours can have way more of an impact than it seems. A three-hour break during the day may not seem ideal. But an extra and more productive 1.5 hours in the early morning and 1.5 hours later at night to make up for the missing three leads to a more fruitful workday, as well as an accommodated employee.

Promote Wellness

Campaigning all of the best practices in remaining healthy and avoiding infection is imperative. Many companies are doing this well, and adhering to the credible CDC guidelines to advise employees on remaining vigilant and healthy.

Along with preventing disease, stagnancy is a greater concern than it usually is. It’s easy to get a day started on the couch, only to realize the day is now ending after barely getting up all day. Commutes, lunch breaks, and walks-around the office that help us get our steps in are now on hold. This creates a sacrifice for personal wellness and could even weaken immune systems.

Companies can help in this health concern. Simply put, encourage daily exercise. Employees who may feel guilt stepping away from the laptop for a quick walk around the neighborhood or workout video, will feel reassured that this is not only acceptable but encouraged.

Send encouraging messages with regard to wellness, daily workouts, tips and suggestions on staying healthy and energized. Employee wellness is a cornerstone of employee productivity. Don’t underestimate it!

Consider Training

Along with being more physically sedentary than usual, some roles, depending on their type of work, may find themselves unchallenged mentally simply because they may have less to do. Work slowing down in the interim can leave employees or partners with some valuable bandwidth.

Some companies are leveraging this open time to boost learning and education about their business. An underutilized LMS, product and service overviews, videos and other training material that might get overlooked by a busy workforce is now prime for attention.

Consider encouraging or even rewarding the consumption of these or even new pieces of material for employees to get their minds in better fighting shape. They could come out of the other end a much stronger player as a result!

Get Creative

We’re experiencing a bad public health and economic situation, yet a renaissance in creativity. Companies are pulling out all the stops to get morale and engagement up during a bleak and somber era.

At WorkStride, we’ve been leveraging our Slack system by adding new channels dedicated to non-work-related areas, like Fitness and Cooking. Employees are sharing their workout routines and tips, as well as their unique concoctions made from the pantry. Our Zoom videoconferencing system has been very leveraged for meetings, of course, but also for virtual game nights 3 nights per week, open to all employees to participate or watch.

The ideas are endless, but the imaginative efforts put forth into boost morale, getting people to interact more, and overall creating a more positive work-from-home experience will be noticed and appreciated.