As we tackle week five of lockdown during COVID-19 with at least another three weeks to go, there will be a range of emotions and responses among employees. From the work we have been doing running Mental Health and Wellbeing Pulse Checks among employees working from home, and those that are furloughed, it is clear that good communication is at the heart of maintaining stability and a cohesive culture.
It may be useful to refer to the Kubler- Ross Change Curve which helps explain the stages we pass through when dealing with change.
Though principally describing the five stages of grief, Kubler-Ross observed that these also apply equally well to changes in the workplace. As a business leader it is really helpful to understand that at any time, we will be on the change curve and the journey is not always linear. In other words, we may slip back and feel low energy and even depression before we move forward again.
You can help your team by acknowledging that everyone is on the change curve and that the key is to talk about it and support one another. Happily, the stage that takes people from depression or low mood to acceptance can and often is incredibly creative and collaborative. Draw on your team for the ideas about how to make things better – listen carefully to everyone’s viewpoints. They all count. As a company you may find changes you make during the crisis will be ones that you wish to keep in place as we emerge.
Here are some of things we find help and are advising our clients to do to support their teams:
1. Honesty, empathy and consistency in your communication
Nothing breeds more anxiety than being in the dark about what the future might hold in terms of job security and pay. Whilst non-one really knows what is going to happen, it is important to share what you can and reassure your team on what steps you are taking to mitigate against potential business losses. Communicating well includes not being a victim of panic or hype and laying out clear actions for what to do and when. The 10x10x10 rule applies here: Say something 10 times in 10 different ways for people to retain 10%.
2. Ship shape technology
Forbes published an excellent round up at the end of March 2020 with the best technology service providers. So if you feel that the wheels are falling off and communication and access to shared drives etc. are not as slick as they need to be, then dive in here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/moorinsights/2020/03/30/the-best-work-from-home-wfh-tips-from-the-top-wfh-providers/#277faa6c2ea7
3. Stick with your routine
Clearly delineate work from home life and so on work days, create a routine that mimics pre lockdown, albeit without the commute! So get up early, shower, get dressed (don’t stay in your PJs) and work from a workspace you have set up. Your bed or the sofa may be appealing at first, but ultimately not conducive to productivity or posture.
4. Do not sit all day
Really important to move around during the day – take breaks to drink water, make a cuppa and stretch. Time clawed back from not having to travel to work means you can take more exercise, practise a musical instrument, meditate etc. Breaks fuel your creativity and motivation when you do return to your desk.
5. Get some fresh air.
Open your windows, exercise outdoors if possible and ensure you have some sunlight each day.
7. Stay connected with your colleagues.
Use the wider variety of channels to stay in touch with colleagues and make time for virtual water cooler moments, e.g. Zoom coffee and chat, Slack banter etc. This helps to maintain and build morale. As a leader, a call-out for the heroes of the week at a Friday afternoon wind- down Zoom call can act as a pre-weekend boost.
8.Kids or no kids at home
Flexibility is the key word here. Do not expect team members with or without children to be always on with emails etc. No-one can do their best work sat in the same spot for 8 hours. Encourage team members to say the core hours that work best for them to be contacted that work around home demands.
We will emerge from this crisis, and leaders that have communicated well and shown empathy and understanding to their teams will reap the rewards in terms of loyalty and work ethic in the recovery phase. Bring it on!