By now we’ve all heard someone say “You’re not working from home. You are at home, during a crisis, trying to get work done.” And it’s true. Many of us may find working from home challenging. It’s getting lonely. We may feel disconnected. We may sometimes feel a little grouchy. We’re trying to get the same amount of work and parenting done, but under very different conditions. Even seasoned offsite employees can find it hard to stay engaged while working remotely during the coronavirus outbreak. But we’re pushing through and reminding ourselves that there are ways to overcome these feelings.
This is one of the most critical times for employee engagement. We’re all working in unusual circumstances, under a new paradigm.
-Renny Arensberg, Executive Vice President of KVC Health Systems
As part of our Coping During COVID-19 series, KVC’s Chief Clinical Officer, Chad E. Anderson is here with more helpful insights. He shares his top tips to stay connected while working from home. Watch this video to learn more.
Ten Tips to Stay Engaged While Working Remotely
- Make sure you have everything you need to do your work. According to Gallup, “having the materials and equipment you need to do your work right is fundamental to engagement.” Lacking the tools or technology to do your job well will lead to frustration and loss of productivity.
- Understand the difference between isolation and loneliness. Loneliness is an emotion felt when you lack connection to others. Isolation is a structural separation or lack of access. Is disconnection you feel caused by lacking access to information or lacking emotional connection? Knowing the difference can help you to resolve it more quickly.
- Set realistic expectations. If you have children at home, you are likely now helping with their education, on top of supporting their emotional and physical wellbeing. With housework and your career, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. Do the best you can. It will be enough.
- Face time matters. Use video when possible for both work and personal conversations. Research shows that we are more open and collaborative via video instead of phone or email. For personal matters, schedule time to see your loved ones on FaceTime or Skype. Personal connections are vital during this period of isolation and insecurity.
- Take virtual lunch or coffee breaks to connect. Tsedal Neeley, a professor at Harvard Business School, says “structuring unstructured time” into team meetings is critical. Our current situation is not business as usual. Allow for relaxed and casual interactions during meetings. If that isn’t possible, schedule time so team members can catch up and check in on one another.
- Innovate. This is a time of great change. Come up with creative solutions to new challenges.
- Don’t forget to grow. Conferences may be canceled but webinars are a budget-friendly option that will allow you to learn. Sharpen a current skill or try something new. Podcasts also offer a wealth of information.
- Carry on traditions. Celebrate milestones like birthdays and anniversaries, both at home and at work. If you had regular all-hands meetings, move them online. If appropriate, let your dog make an appearance in your next video meeting.
- Set boundaries. You can’t avoid merging work life and home life when working remotely during the coronavirus crisis. This can make it feel like you are always working. Commit to non-work time to avoid burnout. Put the laptop, and even your phone, away for portions of the day. Focus on your family and yourself.
- Look after your mental health. Exercise regularly. Get outside for fresh air and a change of scenery. Make time for self-care.
How To Lead During Times of Uncertainty
According to Renny Arensberg, Executive Vice President for KVC Health Sytems, the best thing to do as a leader is “Communicate, communicate, communicate.” Leaders must show compassion during times of change. They must move discussions away from fear toward hope. Leaders can achieve this by clearly defining expectations and providing opportunities for individuals to do what they do best. Allow team members to express opinions, to be creative and independent. Kindness and stability will also go a long way as we work through this together.