Coping with Covid challenges and a remote workforce
To say the last 6 months has been crazy for all of us would be an understatement and something that all the pre-planning in the world could never really prepare us for. The change and impact that the Covid-19 has had on us – good and bad has been truly unprecedented.
We have been very fortunate in transitioning our workforce to a new way of working. Where pre-Covid approximately 50% of our workforce worked remotely at least 20% of the time, once the pandemic hit, we needed to mobilise 95% of our workforce to be working from home 100% of the time. This wasn’t overly difficult to do from a technological standpoint, but we quickly learned not to take this part of the transition for granted. Working remotely in Covid-era brought multiple wellbeing challenges that we hadn’t before needed to deal with daily.
I am blessed that I work for an organisation that knows how critical health and wellbeing is to our staff engagement. There is never a question about investing resources and time to make sure we are providing staff with ample support but Covid-19 required us to quickly ramp up the support we provided and, in turn, we have been learning a lot along the way.
We couldn’t make assumptions about how people would cope. There have been so many complexities for each staff members’ circumstances (vulnerable family members, isolation from family, etc.). Those who might have previously experienced stress in a busy office environment were now thriving being away from the office and working at home. On the other hand, those who typically thrived under pressure were now struggling due to the challenges faced working with small children and a partner at their feet.
Alongside line manager and team connections, HR made it a point to speak to each staff member about their unique circumstances. We wanted to not only learn how they were coping with remote working but what concerns they had about the impact the pandemic was having on their non-working life. We wanted to understand their specific wellness concerns and provide support proactively rather than waiting until it became an issue.
We will continue to contact staff proactively because Covid-19 has taught us we can’t ask enough, how our people are coping. It has and continues to be a roller-coaster ride that most of us have never experienced; you can feel motivated and positive one day and the next wake up feeling deflated, frustrated, stressed and wondering when we will return to ‘normal’. People need a safe place to be vulnerable more than ever and that will continue to be at the top of our minds in every conversation we have with our staff.
The investment in time has been significant and we can see the benefits with engaged staff who continue to achieve outstanding results with our customers since this pandemic began. My personal reflections on Covid-19 has, at times, been surreal, depressing and stressful. For the most part though, I have felt challenged and inspired because of the amazing people who work in our organisation and the efforts they have gone to work at pace, with agility and endurance. I love that we can provide the support to continue to make it happen!