COVID-19 has evolved into a pandemic the likes of which have not been seen for a hundred years. And as difficult as this crisis has been on the physical and emotional health of people across the globe, it’s also creating an economic crisis. Trying to balance physical safety with economic rebuilding, some companies are reopening for business. When employees return to work, expect to see a “post-crisis crisis.”
Today, I’m starting a five-part series on issues that employees and employers may face when businesses reopen. Then I’ll offer suggestions on how to confront post-crisis challenges. Just remember that crisis is composed of two Chinese characters: danger and opportunity. Leaders have the opportunity to act now to prevent foreseeable troubles.
The first issue organizations will face is what I call the…
Those people who’ve been working from home? They haven’t had a commute. They haven’t wasted a single meeting in “pre-meeting” and “post-meeting” meetings surrounding actual meetings. And while they may have experienced new stresses like balancing Zoom work calls with young children attending virtual school, they also may have used this time to re-evaluate their values and priorities. I’ve heard from some who’ve had dinner with the whole family for the first time ever! Or those who take walks or naps in between meetings. Others with small businesses are hiring their teens to take on small projects (my daughter is editing our videos!).
Those newly-woke employees have a new awareness and may desire more work-life balance than they had in February. Post-COVID-19, they may have an identity and values crisis. They want to contribute, but they also want more balance and values-integration, that, ironically, took a crisis to give them.
Moving forward, leaders will need to balance organizational goals with employee work-life drivers. Here’s where leaders and HR organizations can start:
1. If you have work from home (WFH) options, optimize them.
Many organizations have had to implement WFH technologies in short order; now is the time to optimize them. (The video below highlights this content in another format. Watch it or read on for more.)
Invest in training around team building, collaboration, communication, and accountability so employees can enjoy more of the balance they’ve crave. Just because the first wave of the crisis may pass, it’s not time to stop your investment in helping people use remote technology more efficiently.
Spiritus Communications and several other training organizations offer customized leadership and employee training, both virtually and in the classroom. Find out what’s out there (check out our topics as a start), and pursue options that best meet your organizational needs.
2. If your business doesn’t lend itself to a work-from-home option for the entire workforce, find other ways to provide balance.
Maybe your business model doesn’t allow each employee to work remotely, or maybe they don’t all want to. But there are steps you can take in that direction, especially as social distancing may still be a need for some time:
- Create a staff rotation so some employees can work from home on certain days and come into the office on other days.
- Offer extended breaks, encouraging employees to take walks, which is good for their mental health and your bottom line.
- Offer four-day, 10-hour shifts to allow for an extra day off. As an added bonus, companies should expect to see improved production.
3. On a final note, make your meetings more efficient.
Invite only those who need to be there. Have an agenda, objectives, time frames, and desired outcomes. Use the right technology tools to share outcomes, like Sharepoint or Basecamp. Make meetings fun when you can, mixing in engagement and inspiration. People need to laugh or find hope. I’m being asked to join some of these calls to offer short speeches of encouragement, so reach out to me if I can do that for you. Zoom fatigue is a real thing, so make sure you are mixing in content that energizes and offers hope.
Leaders, how will you engage the NEWLY WOKE employees so you can keep them happy and productive in the post-crisis crisis?