Melodie Bond-Hillman, Ph.D.
Sr. Manager, Human Resources & Administration
“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Day 25 of the quarantine and we are still adjusting to our new normal as a temporarily 100% remote workforce. For the first 2 weeks, there was adrenaline and lots of activity around getting settled in, while transitioning our homes into modern tech workspaces. Many people dream of working from home, but that’s usually on their own terms. For some of us, working from home is already the norm, but for others, the transition has been more difficult and the reality of working exclusively at home can be somewhat disenchanting.
Many of our employees also had to adjust to this instant work from home situation combined with the challenges of multiple people working in one household, no private workspace, homeschooling, childcare, trying to follow CDC guidelines and perhaps take care of a relative or neighbor – all at the same time.
In a previous article, I described preparing our employees and company for a work from home scenario from a tactical perspective and although we anticipated the challenge would lie in keeping employees motivated, engaged, happy and productive during our “Safer at Home” compliance, we learned some valuable lessons through the process:
- Stay Connected – We hold optional, daily “all-staff” office chats via video conference – a casual forum where employees can jump on with their coffee, socialize and connect.
- Provide Ways to Keep Moving – Virtual Yoga is conducted live, twice a week, by our usual in-house yoga instructor to help employees relax, get some exercise and maintain some of their normal routine.
- Celebrate Successes – XYPRO’s weekly, virtual happy hour, provides an opportunity to casually connect online and celebrate the week’s successes.
- Solicit Frequent Feedback – We have sought feedback multiple times (via online survey) in these first 25 days to see how our employees are adjusting. We will continue to survey and make improvements.
- Provide Resources – We’ve made a point to share Financial, Healthcare, Mental Health and Retirement Planning information – so the employees know all the benefits available to them.
- Ask Employees for Advice – Our ”seasoned” remote workers help by providing tips on working from home to our “rookies”. It’s a chance for collaboration and unity. Additionally, it helps the usual remote worker understand “what is the big deal”.
- Find What Works Best for Your Team – Video conference fatigue is a real thing. We use video conferencing for scheduled meetings and encourage the use of our internal chat programs and phone calls for quick questions. Just like in the office, not everything requires a formal meeting.
- Be flexible – We support flexible work schedules to accommodate homeschooling, childcare, grocery shopping, making time to exercise and taking care of others.
- Give Back – XYPRO employees have been gifted additional volunteer hours, allowing them to give to others during and after this crisis. Expressing gratitude and helping others is proven to reduce stress and improve mental health.
- Be Generous Where It Matters – We decided to be extremely flexible with sick time through this extraordinary circumstance. Even though we’re working from home, if you’re sick – please take the time you need to get better.
- Provide Encouragement – Encourage employees to get exercise, take frequent breaks and provide “stand up and stretch” reminders.
- Transparency in Communication – Continue to keep employees and customers updated as the situation changes or doesn’t, requiring this unusual arrangement to last longer.
This crisis will be a defining moment for many companies and a true test of the strength of their culture. At XYPRO, we realize the importance of how we handle this. The impact of the way companies treat their employees during times like these will have lasting effects on employee trust, morale, loyalty, and satisfaction. We take that into consideration with every decision we make.
We’re in an enviable position having the luxury of “decisions” about how we’re going to handle this situation. We haven’t had to furlough or lay off anyone. This stability is not lost on us and we are consciously making the effort to do what we can to support our local businesses and communities by continuing to order goods and services we will need when things begin returning to normal.