Whilst we’re still very much in the midst of COVID-19, a lot of companies are beginning to look to the near future. What will the office look like in a post-pandemic landscape? Strategies and budgets may need to be revised and logistics examined.
How will the new ways of working and learning remotely slot back into the blend of an office environment? With many companies, it’s been a positive discovery and a learning curve to know that remote working can work for them. For some this may mean adopting remote working positions more permanently, of course, this brings new challenges along with it.
What do all these processes have in common? They’ll all require strong, clear channels of communication to ensure they’re properly implemented.
The Responsibility of Employers
The rather uncertain times leading up to the Government mandated lockdown put an onus on employers to prepare for an upcoming event that they didn’t understand fully.
Government funding was not a given at this point nor were there any specific guidelines for different business sectors as to who could continue working and who could not. These were all implemented at a later stage.
Employers need to be present for their employees in a time of crisis and vice versa. This sudden change in circumstance meant many were trying to juggle predicting the future to evolving their services accordingly. It meant getting to grips with constantly updated Government guidelines whilst preparing their employees for potential furlough or remote working.
On both sides of the fence, it has been a steep learning curve for both employers and employees on how to work most effectively from home. You’ll find it is a struggle to replicate the support system that comes from being able to communicate within a physical working environment once you start working remotely.
Managing both the efficiency and well-being of others is made easier when face to face. We can often get a sense of a team member’s mood just from briefly conversing with them throughout the day. You can even tell how they’re dealing with the workload they’ve been given or perhaps if they’re lacking focus. It’s these small interactions that we often don’t think twice about until the option to socialise in that way has been removed from the framework.
How do you keep someone motivated, replicate the office banter or monitor your employees' mental health through phone calls and a digital screen?
Whilst on the topic of screens, there have also been many technical challenges to consider. As of 2018, a poll found that the average office worker will spend almost 1,700 hours a year in front of a computer screen. They’ve become as integrated into our working lives as the morning tea and coffee round. When something goes wrong or we have a technology emergency we can typically rely on the IT team to help with the issue, but of course, this solution is eradicated once the team is dispersed. This can have a devastating effect on productivity and work output.
Many went into this not knowing how long the remote working period would last for (we still don’t) and so many went in blind and unequipped. This means many have been left without the right tools provided by their employer simply due to the unknown.
For the employees who have been just as in the dark throughout this pandemic, sacrifices have also been made. With schools and nurseries closed, many workers have had their work and home life balance tipped on its head. They’ve had to take on the role of a homeschool teacher and watching their smaller children full time whilst also finding time to focus on their workload.
The barrier between work and leisure time is already blurred due to life in a modern setting where our smartphones are constantly in hand with access to our work emails, calls and to-do lists 24/7. With the removal of a structured 9-5 office setting, hours being consumed by other responsibilities and having to work into the evenings, how do workers know when it’s safe to ‘switch off’ for the day?
It’s easy to understand how keeping healthy and happy during this time can be difficult, particularly if adapting to the new way of working is seeing the responsibilities piling high. Whether members of your team live with others or alone, it can be difficult to truly get a sense of their mental health and wellbeing and to offer them support.
As a lot of the day-to-day duties can no longer be supervised and with many cutting out channels of communication to save time and ‘just do’, many employees have received newfound levels of freedom having worked from home for weeks. Is there any way this could be maintained upon society’s return to ‘normal’? Particularly if remote working becomes more commonplace than the traditional office environment.
Communication is Key
Given that the workforces are dispersed across a combination of either home, work or both, it’s communication that links us. The quality of these communications could mean the difference between sink or swim both during and after COVID-19.
Therefore, there has never been a more urgent need to allow both yourself and your employees access to vital tools. For example, your IT goes down whilst you’re remote working. We’ve established that you won’t be able to directly access the IT team as you would back at the office. You need to consider not only how the IT team will communicate with each other, but also with the rest of the team.
In upgrading these channels of communication you’re allowing for the creation and sustainability of healthy morale amongst the team. When there is a feeling of a strong, reliable network it helps to reinforce the trust once felt between employees when within the office setting.
With no access to HR or confidential support, new risks such as keeping a closer eye on employee’s mental health would need to be implemented via the use of technology. Our technological capabilities at Klaxon can be used to send out regular communications to employees by asking them to confidentiality disclose about their mental health. Action responses, which are two-way communications, could be used to propose responses such as ‘I’m feeling well’, ‘I am experiencing anxiety’ or ‘I would like a confidential call’. For some, reaching out about how they’re feeling can be daunting. With the company making that initial reach out, not only does it reassure the team that you care, but also takes away some of that fear.
In implementing better communications, what do these solutions mean for the future of businesses? Could we see a new sense of freedom in terms of closing physical office altogether as no longer required? Knowing there is a secure communications system in place could also more freely allow employers to give employees the choice when it comes to working location and how they would like to work.
Klaxon doesn’t just work within the business sector, though. In terms of other organisations, educational institutions have had to juggle both on-site and distance learning whilst simultaneously needing a way to keep students and staff up to date. Care homes need to keep families up to date with the lockdown position. The NHS also needs to keep employees up to date with the ever-changing workplace risks to keep everyone safe.
Not only can we offer communications solutions for businesses and other organisations, but during this sensitive period, we also need to manage other risks such as cybersecurity. It’s a sensitive time and unfortunately, those with nefarious means are cashing in on the opportunities they’re being given. There’s been a large increase in attempted fraud, so in a wider sense, Klaxon can be used to keep people up to date with this.
Understandably, many businesses have had to tighten their belts having found themselves under immense pressure to save money. We can competitively displace older, more expensive tools that do the same job and beyond. We’re also currently offering a free, 3-month license to Klaxon during the Coronavirus crisis so you can see just how easy it can be to communicate with your workforce or your pupils.
If you’d be interested in a free implementation to see just how well we measure up against other services on the market, or to know more about how Klaxon can help you better your communications post-COVID, why not get in touch?
Klaxon is an intuitive, simple platform to provide fast and powerful communications when you're faced with major incidents. Schedule your personalised demo today and try it free for 30 days.More Posts