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2 April 2020

4 tips for helping employees develop a new routine while working from home

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Guest blogger Stefanie Jenkins is a seasoned health writer and editor specialising in holistic health, strength training and nutrition. Her true passion lies in helping others learn how to manage stress and anxiety, find a work-life balance, and build healthy habits.

Though these are some uncertain times we’re living in with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many companies globally are still able to conduct business by using today’s advanced technology to work remotely from home. Some organizations have been practicing remote work for quite a while and have even integrated it into their company culture, while others are building their remote networks and infrastructure for the first time.

No matter how familiar your company is to remote work, having absolutely no office or face-to-face communication for an indefinite amount of time is uncharted territory for all of us. To smooth the transition to working from home, Stefanie has compiled four tips to help your employees develop a new routine while working remotely.

1. Develop a Daily Routine

With this new normal now taking over our day-to-day routines for the foreseeable future, there will need to be some flexibility granted to employees, especially those with children and those with caring responsibilities.

However, for the most part, it is best to keep things streamlined so that everyone is on the same page. If your organization has practiced flexible scheduling in the past (e.g. working 7 to 3 instead of the traditional 9 to 5), now may be the time to scale back and require a 9 to 5 workday. This way, everyone in your organization is available for communication at the same time since you do not have the option to simply pop by someone’s desk to ask a question like most employees are used to.

Keeping a regular schedule will also help encourage employees to put morning and nighttime routine into place. Routine is especially important because it brings a sense of normality and control in times of change and uncertainty.

2. Streamline Communication

Streamlined communication will make all the difference when managing a workforce remotely. As previously mentioned, the convenience of stopping by a co-workers desk or pulling the team into the conference room for a quick meeting isn’t applicable in this situation. If your organization hasn’t already, now is the time to streamline communications within the company. This means ensuring that all employees are communicating on the same platform.

There are plenty of options with different functions at different price points. Take for example People First, which allows businesses to communicate with their employees, while offering a platform for teams and individuals to engage and collaborate.

3. Encourage Exercise

Working from home, especially for an extended period, makes it easy to develop bad habits or give in to old ones. Especially now with the shutdown of most gyms and fitness centers and with the scarcity of supplies due to empty grocery stores, many employees are out of their normal workout and diet routine. Not to mention, the comfort of working from home may tempt many employees to remain comfortable and seated all day.

Getting in even a half-hour of physical activity a day can make all the difference to one’s mental state and physical health. Encourage remote employee wellness by providing company-wide access to virtual workout programs. Or, if there isn’t room for that in the budget, encourage employees to hold their own virtual at-home group workouts via video chat. Not only will that keep employees happy, healthy, and productive, but it will create that sense of teamwork and social interaction that many remote workers may be missing.

You could also provide a space in your company’s intranet or chat platform for employees to share their own at-home workouts and document what they’ve been doing to stay active. If the company budget allows, some sort of prize or extra recognition for the most active employees could be a great incentive.

4. Make Nutrition a Priority

Nutrition plays a large role in the overall wellbeing of remote employees and their families and can affect one’s health, mood, mindset and ultimately their productivity if not taken seriously. Check-in with your employees regularly to make sure they are well stocked with nutritious meals and provide help and assistance where appropriate. Many remote employees can surely attest that being homebound creates unique temptations due to easy access to their home kitchens without the worry of judgment from coworkers (for example if you down an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s for lunch). Stress eating (or undereating due to stress-induced lack of appetite) in times of great change and uncertainty is a real challenge for so many. The issue often gets swept under the rug or not taken seriously due to feelings of shame or embarrassment. Support your employees in finding an online nutrition guide or supplying an app-based weight loss program, such as WW, to encourage mindful eating. Many nutrition and weight management programs provide access to hundreds of healthy recipes that meet the needs of individuals and their families.

A healthy workforce is a productive and successful workforce. During this time especially, personal health and wellbeing is the biggest concern taking up the minds of working individuals all over the planet. Providing the tools and support employees need to stay healthy and productive while working remotely will not only keep your workforce thriving and successful, but it will also create a strong sense of pride and loyalty to their company for years to come.

MHR

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