Coronavirus – managing the wellbeing of staff remotely
intelliflo research finds that managing the wellbeing of staff while working from home has been a major challenge for advice firms since the coronavirus outbreak. As homeworking continues for many normally office-based staff, how can we provide support to employees and maintain motivation remotely?
At intelliflo, many of us work away from the office at least some of the time, so we have well established systems for remote working. But ensuring that staff have the right technology in place to operate effectively from home is only part of the issue in the current situation. For teams used to being based in the same office most of the time, providing support to those adjusting to working remotely and maintaining a sense of community is an important element of a business’s response to dealing with the pandemic.
Keep up the contact
Our latest research among over 500 clients found that a fifth (21%) rated managing the wellbeing of staff as the single largest challenge to the working day since the coronavirus outbreak, whereas half that number (11%) found using technology at home a major problem. Early on, intelliflo initiated regular virtual coffee meetings, with no work chat allowed, to check on employee welfare. From our research we know that many others are taking a similar approach. When asked to share advice on navigating these difficult times, one adviser suggested: “Keep in regular contact with colleagues, have video meetings where possible and check in on each other just for a chat.” Making time for communication is important for everyone working remotely and technology can be hugely helpful to this process. As another respondent said: “We keep in contact through Microsoft Teams. We chat first thing, as we would in the office, and talk about what we will be doing in the evenings.”
Ensuring staff continue to feel part of a team is crucial in these unusual times. At intelliflo, we’ve swapped our usual Friday beers for drinks via video conference with an added games element like bingo, truth or lies, and team quizzes to help maintain the social side of work. And we encourage virtual interaction between colleagues through remote workout sessions for the more active among us. Advisers are doing the same, with one research respondent suggesting: “Arrange quiz nights on Zoom with all the office to maintain working/fun relationships with your colleagues.” Another recommended: “Remember the social time for Friday drinks or just a chat.”
Structure – and flexibility
Another common tip from our research for successful remote working was to create a schedule. Getting dressed, starting and finishing at the same time each day and even ‘commuting’ with a daily walk were all put forward as ways to get into the right frame of mind for work. Yet with many of us working around family, pets and other distractions, this may be easier said than done – almost a third (31%) found establishing a routine a major challenge. Although a schedule is useful, flexibility is also important, with one adviser observing: “Keep structure to your day, but don't panic if it doesn't always go to plan.”
A healthy balance
Taking regular breaks and not letting work run into personal time was another key theme in our research. As one adviser put it: “It is more important than ever to draw the line between work and your own time – without discipline, the ‘always-on’ culture has the potential to damage your health.” There is a danger that working from home means never being away from your desk, so intelliflo’s managers encourage regular breaks and ‘enforce’ a full hour for lunch to make sure everyone gets proper downtime from work.
One positive may be that this period of enforced home working may make staff wellbeing a higher priority for firms post-crisis, with 16% of our respondents believing that will be the case in twelve months’ time. As one adviser commented: “Hopefully people will in future realise the need for a better work-life - health balance.”
Although a return to office-based life can’t come soon enough for some (one respondent’s tip for homeworking was: “Don't do it, office working is far more efficient!”), for others it has been a revelation. A fifth (22%) have relished the lack of commute and 19% like having a more flexible schedule. Over half (57%) of those surveyed expect staff to work remotely more often in future - one even went as far as to say: “I do not understand why anyone would want an office in the future.”