After nearly three months of reacting to crises, it’s time to evaluate organizational wellness.
June 13, 2020 will mark three months of remote working for us here at Kiefer Consulting. Like millions of our Northern California neighbors, we’ve found these past 12 weeks challenging, isolating and stressful. They also proven that the people who comprise our organization are adaptable, flexible and innovative. While it has been a time of uncertainty, we’ve been fortunate to have found numerous opportunities to enhance existing client relationships while also building new ones.
Uncertainty will continue as many regions, including ours, embark on a widescale reopening efforts. Just as you may be feeling, we’re not sure what the future is going to look like. What we do know is we have the tools and technologies in place to work whenever and wherever we need. And we’re helping other organizations do the same.
But as we approach the three-month mark, the effects of distancing and recent civil unrest may be starting to wear on many. So, we thought it might be helpful to curate some advice from other organizations and experts about how to perform a remote work health checkup.
Use Microsoft Teams to Check In
Kiefer Consulting has been fortunate to have helped organizations discover the powerful capabilities of Microsoft Teams. Staying connected has been critical for our team and surely for your team as well.
According to a recent article published by Environmental Health and Safety Today, organization leaders should be striving to keep personal connections robust and healthy, especially in remote work settings.
“People want to feel that they matter. It starts by intentionally increasing connection and communications that focus on relating, empathizing, and belonging. The connection and relationship-building activities that happen in person can be adapted to a remote working environment using 1:1 weekly check-ins and virtual mentoring; working from home buddy-matching; and through deploying virtual moments such as morning coffee, lunch catch ups and team virtual happy hours.”
Microsoft Teams is the ideal solution for maintaining that vital sense of belonging even when we can’t be together in person.
Don’t Neglect Mental Health
The act of working remotely is rooted in physicality. We’re not physically in the office but we’re expected to be in the office mentally. As a leader in your organization, make sure you’re considering the toll current events may be taking on your team.
“Employees are feeling a sense of uncertainty and heightened stress right now – about their health, job and financial security,” writes Forbes. “Leaders who show they care about individual employees and provide mental health guidance right now can help boost spirits. Managers should take extra steps during this time to check in with their team on a daily basis about things other than work. Host video calls to keep up employee morale and promote a larger conversation about overall well-being. Remind employees to take mental and physical breaks, exercise and participate in other non-work-related activities to reduce anxiety and improve productivity.”
Over the last two weeks, the US has experienced civil unrest the likes of which haven’t been seen in a generation. If you haven’t already started thinking about it, now may be the time to have open, honest conversations about race in the workplace. If that sounds like a daunting task, consider advice from Rumina Morris, a diversity, equity and inclusion expert, who contributed to a recent, wide ranging Entrepreneur article on the topic of discussing racism with employees.
Speaking about leaders of all races, Morris said, “The most important thing is to come from a place of authentic leadership. The heroes are the ones who ask, ‘What can I do? How can I help? Tell me more.’ The ones who ask, ‘How are you? How are you coping?’ The ones who believe the stories and pain of black people. They grow into the idea that an inclusive workplace just makes good business sense. Employees experience better job satisfaction, and employers get better employee retention. The fear of messing this up should not stop leaders from taking a stab at it. A messy conversation is better than the deafening sound of silence.”
Being a leader in ordinary times is hard. Leading during a pandemic and as our nation grapples with old wounds can seem overwhelming. Hopefully these tips and suggestions can help make your job a little easier and keep your organization healthy.