There have been tumultuous changes in our lives for the past month or two, thanks to the uninvited guest, COVID19. Thousands of lives have been lost and million others are in danger of exposure, but are bravely holding up the fort at the frontlines. However, we can all agree that the world has continued to function within a reasonable semblance of normalcy, despite the Corona Virus Lockdown. What was earlier thought of as impossible, is now being implemented worldwide through the testy waters of WFH, aka Work From Home.
But this is not for long, as slowly in carefully planned gradual steps, industries and businesses will be allowed to open again. You have to keep in mind that although they are being allowed to open, there are strict guidelines and measures that have to be implemented before you can start functioning as before. The Government will come up with stringent rules that have to be brought into effect, before you can be declared eligible to open for business. This will happen in due course.
Before that it is up to each individual business to really consider the safety of their employees and what measures can be taken on an immediate protocol. Staying on top of the situation will help you seamlessly bring your workforce back into action. We give you five valid and must-adapt changes that will help you to no end when the lockdown lifts.
Flexible work schedules
Since you have part of your work force already working from home, through the quarantine, they have certainly proved that they are capable and efficient even when tasked with working at their comfort levels. The Lockdown has forced us into adapting to working from home with limited resources. Even in the post quarantine worklife, you can make employee schedules flexible. It will earn you loads of brownie points as an employer. Most people struggle to maintain an effective work-life balance but flexible schedules and work from home options can make them loyal employees who are actually happy with who they work for.
This adaptation will effectively lower your operating costs in terms of power and other resources used by those employees. It will reduce the Cost per employee borne by you. You can even invest the money for the growth of the business. The Work from Home scheme will now be embedded as part of the organisation’s work culture and not just as an aid for emergencies. Educate your employees that this freedom comes from your trust of them, and is purely for their benefit. It should not be taken for granted at any cost.
Plan Ahead for all stakeholders
Have a plan of action for Day1 of the post lockdown re opening of the business. This plan has to take into account all and any stakeholders. There is plenty of fear and uncertainty running amok among everyone. Have clear instructions and tasks lined up for all the teams of employees. It could be as simple as setting up their workstations, after it has been abandoned for so long. When there is an actionable situation awaiting them, they are more likely to respond well to their work. Reassure your customers with specific invitations that you are reopen and back in the game. Invite them over by setting up reasonably safe environment for them as well. Discuss the deployment of resources from suppliers and contractors. Ensure that your logistics partners are also available and if not arrange for back ups. Review your stocks and portfolios and have an honest, but reassuring discussion with your investors, that you have a plan of action to get things back on track. The simplest gesture that you are taking so much pains to keep yourself floating in this crisis, will gain their confidence. Employees will also strive towards working better for such sincere efforts made by you.
Categorise high risk employees
Check in with each and every individual involved with your work as to the health status of the individual and their families. Include all possible points of exposure that they are vulnerable to. If someone is from a high risk area or has faced a personal tragedy, it is perfectly alright to ask them not to come in to work right away. They can continue working from home as before for an acceptable period of time. This simple measure is very much effective in ensuring the safety of the rest of the employees and yourself. Have the workplace sanitised everyday until the threat is completely cleared from the city you are in. Rearrange the workplace a bit to have a safe space between individual seats. This may be a little inconvenient at first, but it sends a clear message to the employees that you are looking out for their safety, personally.
Practise Social Distancing
Another great strategy to keep your personnel safe is by arranging transport for them. Not everyone can afford private transportation. Even for those with personal vehicles, it is a huge financial burden bringing their own vehicles to work, plus imagine the traffic it would create!
Public transport is a high risk factor for spread of the infection. When a few employees get exposed or inadvertently become asymptomatic carriers, they can easily infect the entire workforce since work demands proximity and interaction. You can instead spend a little money on arranging transportation with sufficient spacing on different routes. If people can carpool, help them by taking care of fuel expenses. Consider this an investment in a happy workplace. If you are a business owner and there are employees residing on your route, make it an example by giving them rides back and forth from work. It won’t cost you anything but gives the employees, reassurance that you are willing to share your resources with them.
For a few months post lockdown, this is an extremely crucial change to be implemented till the virus is completely eradicated.
Most companies have an employee incentive scheme in place. While they were good for the previous normal lives we led, its time to rethink how beneficial these schemes actually are to them. The most common practise is to give them cash or gifts in kind. Half the time the cash is spent in giving treats to colleagues and does even reach the families. Gifts like appliances are too mainstream.
There are plenty of non cash benefits that actually promote employee productivity and loyalty. They can be categorised into three as Psychological, Medical and Lifestyle.
The Psychological benefits are access to good therapists and mental health covers. Man jobs are stressful and the stress affects the performance of even the smartest and most dedicated worker. Giving them access to good mental health and more work excursions and retreats has actually been proved to elevate productivity levels to work time ratios. Medical benefits are self-explanatory and include all forms of insurance and medical coverages and compensations. They can also be in the form of memberships to gyms and other physical activities that they may not spend on themselves, but promotes their well-being. A healthy employee is no doubt, a happy employee. The last is lifestyle benefits that are in the form of trips and other such experiences. If you can provide these in addition to cash incentives then you will have a strong workforce and a company reputation that will attract the best of talent.
As a business, it is important to look out for yourself and prepare for all emergencies. However, your stakeholders, particularly the employees are what keep you running through it all. Give them genuine importance and the receiving end of your concern and you will rewarded manifold. These post lockdown changes will help you through all situations ahead, and create a happy and productive work environment. If you found this blog helpful, reach out to us with your stories and experiences of post lockdown worklife.