No one could have foreseen what would happen this year with the coronavirus Covid-19 Pandemic. Most of us had very little warning we would be homeworking and whilst the idea can be romanticised; TV in the background, cat on the sofa, and no commute; the truth is very different.
Whilst home working is currently recommended and not necessarily an option, employers do need to remember that the isolation this brings can put your team’s mental health at risk. When there isn’t an office to attend, you miss out on the morale boosting connection you get from being with others. When you couple this with the increasing anxiety levels surrounding recent events, it’s more important than ever that duty of care is taken seriously.
She said the first thing that she did was be very open with her team that they may struggle. “By opening up the floor, people know that they can come to you if they need anything,” she says.
Additionally, Sarah strongly feels you need to know your team and their personalities. “Some people thrive on encouragement and feedback. Working from home should not limit this.
“The onus is on me to make sure that I still praise people for work and guide them where required. When face-to-face interaction is lessened, it’s even more important to make sure that instructions are crystal clear, and I am more in-depth with my explanations.”
VerriBerri have put some measures in place to attempt to combat the difficulties that working from home can present.
- Practically, if you are working from home maintain your normal working hours. This should make sure that you have boundaries to work within and ensure you are as productive as you can be. It also means you don’t overwork and exhaust yourself. Along the same vein, try and create a routine that you can follow. We are creatures of habit and having a solid structure can help you physically and mentally prepare.
- Another way to organise yourself is to get dressed for work. Not necessarily a suit but working in pyjamas can be counterintuitive. Just jeans and a t shirt will get you into a different frame of mind and help your production levels.
- Don’t rely on email and text. If you do you could go for most of the day without speaking! Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and have a conversation. Yes, it may be more time consuming but it’s necessary for your wellbeing.
- Every morning VerriBerri hold a team meeting. They do this over Zoom, putting the video option on so they can see each other and maintain a connection. On this call they have a set agenda so they can be sure that the business still runs smoothly. Furthermore, they have a daily ‘check in’ where they discuss how they are feeling and suggest any things that are helping them.
- VerriBerri also have a team WhatsApp. This is updated over the course of the day with photos of lunches, workspaces, and anything else that’s relevant. This is another small way of trying to uphold camaraderie.
- The company have two weekly lottery lines that are paid for by the MD and given to two of the team who have performed well that week. Inexpensive gestures can make the difference in situations like this pandemic. It offers the opportunity to praise people who are performing well but also lighten the mood in an otherwise dim climate. Coronavirus has a lot to answer for!
VerriBerri wants to stress that although the situation Britain is in due to the COVID-19 Pandemic is less than ideal, it isn’t insurmountable. They want to encourage employers to support their teams as much as possible in the good times and the bad.