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How to Support Employees When WFH is Living at Work

As most people have had to go through the transition to a permanent work-from-home setup, the importance of technology has become even more apparent. (Check out the series of blogs about how technology can help you work from home, starting here.) Some people quickly realized their household WiFi wasn’t going to cut it, and working from your living room couch for eight hours straight may also not have been the best environment for productivity. Luckily, we’ve had nearly six months to readjust and become more comfortable with our home offices.

Technology can get us through the tasks we must accomplish in a work day, but what if we need the rest of our team to get something done? The luxuries of popping over to someone’s desk in the office or booking a conference room for an afternoon brainstorming session are, unfortunately, gone. Easy-to-use virtual conferencing tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts allow us to get ahold of anyone at a moment’s notice, but the face-to-face experience of working from office spaces are significant advantages missing from our daily lives. 

With working and living adjustments, new social norms, essentially a whole new world -- engaging with one another comes with serious restrictions. How can we support one another while living at work during a global pandemic? Below are four ways to make this transition a little easier. 

Schedule Shorter Meetings 

While it may be easy to view the negatives of our new current situation and struggle to find motivation, now is the time to turn to one another for inspiration around virtual support and engagement. Instead of putting the standard 30-minute meeting slot on someone’s calendar, put 15! It’s time to normalize meetings at 15-minute intervals. You live at work now, take advantage of adding more flexibility to your schedule! Personally, it’s really hard for me to power through work in the afternoons at home, so I’ve started rising earlier in the day when I can have blocks of uninterrupted working time and accomplish what I need to, separate from scheduled meetings and before my brain needs a long break.

Create Smaller Groups

Having company get-togethers with smaller groups of people can be more comfortable and manageable for employees to attend. Hopping on a Zoom call of 130+ people isn’t necessarily the best environment for collaborating or transferring knowledge. If a company-wide meeting is necessary, consider holding several informational sessions and inviting people to attend based on what works best with their schedule, or only inviting certain teams at a time to limit the number of people on a video call.

Take PTO!

One major luxury that has been forgotten during our remote 2020: take PTO! Even if you don’t have a beach to travel to, closing your computer for a few days and removing yourself from work is necessary.

Talk to Leadership

Most importantly, talk to your team and leadership. This global pandemic is uncharted territory for everyone. If you feel like your company could be doing something different to support their employees navigating an entirely different work environment, get a collaborative team together to investigate what has been successful for similar organizations.

Many companies have shared with their employees that office returns won’t be reconsidered until 2021 --  clearly, this transition period isn’t as temporary as we thought. Together, we can learn and better support each other with innovative virtual resources and activities.