Working from home (WFH) used to be out of the norm, especially for boomers. Only 3% of boomers work from home, compared to 62% of millennials and 35% of Generation Xers. Unfortunately, it took a global pandemic for the WFH to take the center stage.
Before the pandemic, only 7% of employees regularly worked from home. The same percentage has the perk of a “flexible workplace,” and these are usually in managerial, white-collar positions. This is because some jobs require physical contact and some employees do not have access to the technology of WFH.
Now, WFH has increased in demand due to social distancing mandates under the new normal. From January 22 to February 20, the download rate of the WFH app, Lark, has increased by 6,085% in China. According to the President of Global Workplace Analytics, Kate Lister, an estimate of 25-30% of the workforce will be regularly working from home by 2021.
While WFH poses a lot of benefits when it comes to flexibility of schedule, the absence of commuting, etc., there are looming concerns brought about by the pandemic. A study by Blind garnered 10,107 responses about the emotional and mental health during WFH amid the pandemic found that employees have increased loneliness (52.9%), feelings of anxiety (56.4%), and effects in productivity levels (53%).
Because of this, employers have to put in a little extra effort to reach out to their employees and ensure their well-being. A survey by Thrive Global reflected the areas in which employees desired more of their employers’ help:
- in “managing upstream preventive health” (85%);
- in coping better in the midst of a pandemic (80%);
- in resilience and empowerment (80%); and
- in “greater action to address outbreak-related challenges” (85%).
The responsibility now falls on employers, as the times continue to change. In facing this pandemic, here are ways to take care of employees in the time of COVID-19:
Engage and Connect
Aside from communicating through work from home apps, effectively engaging with employees require knowing their needs. One way to do this is by doing a survey, asking them about their concerns. While there are forms available for free, using those from online survey vendors helps the company get the most out of their data. With accurate data gathering and reporting, the company will know problem areas that they should target while connecting with their employees.
Take care of their health
Healthcare is one of the basic concerns in terms of financial capacity, and in this pandemic, taking care of employees’ health is more important than ever. A good example of how to do this as an employer is Ally Financial. The benefits of the 8,700 WFH employees include 100% coverage of diagnostic concerns for COVID-19 and online healthcare, free mental health help on the phone, and paid medical leave for those diagnosed with COVID-19. It is benefits like this that give employees comfort when something unexpected happens.
For employers who are still getting the hang of WFH, there are so many things that they can try out to improve the well-being of employees. It can be a virtual dance party or an online workout session. The group can also have meditation exercises or game nights. Team leaders can also start a fun challenge to build rapport between members. The end goal for every activity is to increase employee satisfaction and to make them feel that the company cares for them.