The Covid-19 infection cases have reached more than 1 million globally, doubling in a week as the virus spreads across Europe and North America and established a toehold in Africa. With the cases increasing rapidly, stricter rules are implemented in some countries, such as masks should be worn by everyone regardless of their health condition and extended closures for all businesses in non-essential sectors.
The urgency to stay at home and work from home has become a new priority. But individuals are allowed to go outside to buy essential goods, seek medical assistance, or to work on voluntary services where it is not possible to do from home.
With the vast majority of businesses done from home and people are urged to stay home, Gartner reported that top HR priority today is to put people first. Employees are worrying more about their physical safety, potential disruptions to their own work, and wonder how an organisation plans to manage its operations. Therefore, to manage remote talents during the Covid-19 pandemic while helping them manage their mental health, Gartner recommends HR leaders do the following:
Employees are relying on leaders at all levels of a business to take action and set the tone. Communications from senior business leaders to managers should priorities associate health and business sustainability. Communicate regularly with employees, maintaining an open dialogue. Conducting weekly or monthly video conferences discussing work and personal related concerns should also be considered.
Leaders should be a trusted source for accurate and up-to-date information on coronavirus and how it is impacting the organisation. Avoid sharing information from social media, leverage trusted resources such as WHO and CDC instead. Contextualise information and data as much as possible so that it specifically relates to the organisation.
Remote working reduced the time for in-person interaction and this could disrupt business production and loosen relationships between peers. Thus, employees should maintain regular professional and personal interactions with their peers. Having virtual checks on peers could lessen the chance of being left out and excluded. HR leaders should encourage employees to leverage communication platforms employees use, either at work or in their personal lives to create new ways to work together.
Remote work looks different for each employee depending on their needs and those of their families. With unprecedented school closures, many employees must take on a double role as they have to support their children and families throughout the workday. Organisations can meet employees’ needs by empowering teams to adapt to their conflicting time demands. For instance, teams can set “core team times” when all team members are available to collaborate.
When preparing for employees’ eventual return to the office, empower employees to make choices best suited for their needs and comfort levels. Where possible, allow employees to decide when to return to the office. Enable essential employees whose work requires them to return to the office to choose the hours that work best for them to return to avoid peak commute times, to take care of the elderly or children beforehand, or anything of employees’ common schedules at home during the pandemic.