Employee wellbeing: The spread of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown measures saw people everywhere – those who weren’t furloughed, that is – setting up office in bedrooms, spare rooms and on the kitchen table. For some it was an opportunity to lie in a bit longer than usual, without the stress of commuting, and adopt a more casual look for work. For others there was the continual challenge of poor internet connection, juggling childcare and the demands of home schooling.
Where a good work- employee wellbeing life balance can be achieved, working from home does offer greater flexibility. This contributes towards happier and more productive employees. Those who have enjoyed and embraced their new-found autonomy may actually even prefer not being overseen by their team leaders. The results of one business survey presents some very compelling statistics that suggest remote working could become the norm. And, as lockdown measures are eased, companies are now reassessing how they operate – an article by M&IT suggests that permanent offices are already being given up in preference for hiring meeting rooms.
Efficient working, greater productivity is obviously great news. What is perhaps more difficult to measure, and something that may only emerge over time, is the impact lockdown and enforced isolation (for some) has had on mental health and employee wellbeing. It has been widely reported that feelings of anxiety are on the rise. With this can come lack of confidence and belief in one’s ability, which can obviously filter through into work life. It’s a sensitive area that team leaders will need to be aware of and sympathetic towards.
The challenge of keeping a team together
What potentially gets missed is the buzz of people in the same place. Where conversations spark ideas that might otherwise never have seen the light of day. It’s an energy that can be difficult to replicate when a team suddenly finds itself essentially operating as a series of one-person satellite offices. It can be very isolating, team bonding starts to fall away and clues about individual wellbeing can be easily overlooked. Equally, those quick chats while making a coffee no longer exist; those seemingly inconsequential social interactions are actually incredibly important.
Keeping connected virtually
Our experience of working with clients over the last few months has shown that keeping teams strongly connected is crucial for maintaining good performance and ensuring ongoing business success. But it’s also important for individual employee wellbeing.
Time to chat and interact on a personal level should never be underestimated. That’s the time when signs of stress and worry are more likely to be detected, rather than around the virtual business table when everyone is wearing their professional ‘game face’. Rather like on social media, it’s all too easy to portray an image of everything being fine.
This puts the onus on team leaders to look out for their team members. Keeping in regular contact, organising one-to-ones and accommodating socialising time within group sessions is key. The MGN events team has been on furlough, yet we’ve all benefited from regular contact. Daily catch-ups and weekly team meetings have helped keep us continue to feel like a team. They’ve helped keep everyone connected and up to date with developments. It’s created a space in which people can discuss one-to-one or as a group, any fears or worries they may have.
Planning a return to the office?
Whether it’s a return from furlough or coming back from remote working, returning to the office is going to feel strange. Even talking to someone across a desk is likely to feel slightly weird. Reconnecting and functioning as a team again won’t happen overnight. It could be the perfect opportunity to plan some kind of event or experience that is designed to bring everyone together both socially and professionally.
An away day, for instance, with appropriate social distancing measures in place of course, would be a good way for team members to enjoy being in each other’s company; catching up, comparing experiences of the last few months, and then steering proceedings towards business. There may be new strategies to discuss and implement, new targets to achieve, new ways of working to explain.
Mental Health Awareness Week was in May, right at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. This year’s campaign revolved around ‘kindness’ – it probably couldn’t have been more timely or better themed. Kindness is inextricably linked to good mental health. It’s worth remembering that kindness and care in the workplace is all powerful. Finding ways to be supportive within a team environment will help everyone adjust to new ways of working.
Looking for further information?
The Mental Health Foundation provides some fantastic resources, including a whole section on Covid-19. And coming up on the horizon is National Work Life Week, which runs 12-16 October, and, again, this is a campaign that is likely to be very pertinent to how we live and work in the shadow of Covid-19.
Employee wellbeing: Speak to us and keep connected
If you’d like to find out more about effective ways of keeping everyone connected whilst working remotely, why not get in touch with MGN events. From running virtual conferences to setting up virtual ‘town hall’ meetings; we know how to engage with an audience spread across multiple locations.
Similarly, if you want to organise a team event tailored to make a significant difference to team performance, it’s something we do really well! Call us on 01932 22 33 33 or email email@example.com