Protecting against social isolation: 5 ways to ‘be there’ for your staff

Covid-19 has utterly changed the way we do business. For many companies, it has forced them to disperse their workforce quickly and establish remote working systems and protocols. 
It’s been a huge task to orchestrate, especially for companies who have previously had few or no home-based or mobile personnel. 
In the clamour to protect your business, it’s vital that you don’t lose sight of the effect this is having on staff mental health and wellbeing. Not least, as you’re storing up long term problems if you have an unproductive, distracted and generally demotivated digital workforce experiencing poor mental health. 
To help, here are five ways to ‘be there’ for remote workers. 

1) Acknowledge the issues 

Emotional intelligence in leadership is more important than ever. While supporting your team to be productive and focused, you also need to address their authentic concerns and issues. The work-life balance is in disarray, not least as they could have kids home from school and elderly relatives to worry about. 
Make it clear that you do understand the pressures, and you are ready to listen. 

2) Technological support 
Next, don’t assume all your remotely working staff are tech-savvy and comfortable within your ramped-up digital workplace. Make it clear that any questions about technology are welcome, and there’s no blame or shame if they need extra support with software or hardware. 

3) Say thank you! 
This may sound common sense and patronising, but one of the biggest issues in dispersed workforces is feeling ‘underappreciated’. In fact, that remains one of the main reasons people change jobs too! 
Make sure you recognise and reward employees and encourage project teams to uplift each other too, so no one feels ‘out of the loop’. 

4) Support open communication 
Your collaboration and communication systems can’t be all business, all the time. To keep staff happy, motivated and productive, simulate office interaction online. There are some excellent social platforms – such as Slack, WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams – that are handy for commercial purposes. They enable employees to chat with colleagues, breaking down isolation and addressing concerns and questions. 

5) Connect HR to employees digitally 
In a normal office environment, HR should have an open-door policy and a ‘finger on the pulse’ of office energy and atmosphere, ready to step in to help anyone who’s struggling. 
It’s important to source a web-based platform that replicates this process online. HR can use it to match and deliver tailored resources to remote workers. It can also make it possible for HR and Line Managers to carry out regular welfare and work checks on teams, assessing their mental state and home-work situation. By connecting your HR functions to home-based staff in this way you can also save time and money, ‘nipping problems in the bud’ ultimately increasing productivity. 

For more information on how to manage your team effectively, with tips to looking after employee wellbeing and productivity, download our handy guide: Managing the wellbeing and productivity of your remote team.


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