by Sanil Nadkarni, CISO, SLK Global Solutions

With the lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders in force, most organizations were forced to have their employees work from home. For most of them, this was a new phenomenon and they were grappling with problems that come with staff trying to perform work operations remotely, and specially from home. There are a litany of issues that crop up, apart from logistics and connectivity – these are ‘human behaviour’ adjustments as individuals balance their work and their family and commitments to the office pressures, and try to find synergies between the two.

Whilst employees have embraced the new normal and learnt to operate without physical interactions, and the interaction from presence of their colleagues next to them, the work routine has become very monotonous and boring in some cases, leading to a broader sense of antipathy towards work from the employee’s perspective. To break through this ennui and related lower productivity, employers are trying to come up with ideas and solutions to lift their employee’s mood and simulate their energies to make remote work more fun and engaging. Following are five tips employers can use in order to engage their employees as work from home becomes more widespread and prolonged.

  1. Frequent meetings:
    It is important to have periodic and frequent meetings – preferably using technologies that allow for video. Body language, gestures and facial expressions are an important form of social interaction, and video certainly is probably the closest we can get to physical interaction. This can be easily done through apps like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. The meetings will help everyone realize that working from home can be similar to the earlier office atmosphere that they were used to.Quick tip – Laugh more and have convivial conversation to keep everyone’s mood light.
  1. Award and Reward:
    It is important to have a reward and recognition system so that the employees feel invigorated and driven. The rewards would be a great reason for the employees to show their skills and the appreciation from the managers and employers and their colleagues will act as a confidence booster.
    The employers can give out e-gift vouchers, reward offers, cashback offers, etc. as rewards.
  1. Organise special events (e.g. freaky Friday nights):
    The concept of Friday as a fun workday which is followed by the actual weekend time off is dependent on the country or location – e.g. in India many organizations have half-days on Saturday as well. But nonetheless, the organizations can plan a small online get together through skype, Google Duo, Facebook live or zoom where employees can showcase their talent like singing, playing an instrument, poetry, etc. The night shouldn’t be ‘freaky’ but it can surely be lively and immersing. This is also something that everyone soon may start looking forward to as the end of the week approaches.
  1. Start a fitness regimen:
    Not all offices have a gym, or a fitness area specially reserved for their employees. But with the ‘work from home’ routine, this hurdle can be overcome. The employers can arrange 30-45 minutes of yoga or Zumba sessions for their employees once a week. This will help keep employees in a healthy state – which is an important organizational goal. Employees who are fit and healthy are always an important asset, with benefits in the long haul. A non-intensive session of Zumba, yoga, meditation, cardio or strength training is enough to get the blood circulation moving and to refresh everyone.

    Quick tip – Participate in a common online Zumba, or Yoga class, share your experiences and motivate each other in this journey.

  1. Open-minded discussions :
    In stressful times, everyone is worried about job security issues, any financial crisis, family matters, etc. Timely discussions and chat sessions can help the employees relieve stress and anxiety. Take frequent coffee or tea breaks or a quick stroll. Call colleagues, joke around. Similar to chats or coffee breaks in office cafeterias or the local coffee shop.

    Quick tip – organizations can arrange counselling session for all their employees to check the pulse on their physical and mental fitness.

Of course, these activities and tips do work under all conditions; but as we face these stressful times, they take on even more importance, and start becoming more a necessity than nice-to-haves.

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