The past year or so has been turbulent and unprecedented for many worldwide. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives and mindsets in ways that we never thought possible. Working from home has been the new norm and many companies have found it difficult to adjust and adapt. However if companies cannot find ways to rebuild and reshape their workplace landscape or take their workforce online, then they face a major crossroad.

56% of UK adults have said their mental health has deteriorated since lockdown began and mental health apps have been downloaded more than one million times since the start of the crisis.  The digitization of the relationship between an employer and their employees is a must and it cannot be done without the right preparation and clear communication within the workforce. Retraining and supporting your staff is of the utmost importance. It is essential that Companies offer greater flexibility and homeworking whilst also updating their Wellbeing strategy in order to reduce stress and prevent exposing their employees and themselves to emotional and economic distress along with redundancies and eventual closures. A robust Wellbeing strategy will provide a clear action plan, it will also help you to get the necessary buy-in you need from key decision makers.

There are several options for companies to adjust to the new online working environment with minimum to zero losses. What is important is to perceive this not as a setback but rather as an opportunity for growth, innovation and development.

  1. Retrain the workforce
    Starting from managerial positions moving downwards, every company that used to work with a physical presence should re-establish what is needed by their employees. The new strategy needs to be focused on training the people already working in the company to take up new roles or find their place in the digital workspace. Learning new skills is vital and will benefit employees in being repositioned for success whilst boosting resilience and a growth mindset. Its critical that the training of managers is prioritized to help employees deal with stress, emotional and mental burnout of working in quarantine conditions as many feel isolated , overwhelmed, anxious and lacking in confidence due to limited opportunities for positive feedback from colleagues. Most people that work from home now, report that the most difficult thing is to remain upbeat and maintain their positivity and resilience. Effective communication methods and tools are what a company should embed in their new strategy. to counter isolation which can breed stress and reduced productivity. The creation of new roles within companies will motivate employees to remain engaged rather than looking for alternative employment which can in and of itself be stressfull. The changes in workload during the pandemic and homeworking have created imbalances in the allocation of the workforce, for many companies. So what is important is for employees to learn ways to deal with remote working and potential feelings of being trapped in the same environment with family members and having limited poortunities to meet up with their colleagues.
  2. Wellbeing Audit
    The pressures coming from the pandemic are enormous. The loss of a job, uncertainty about the future and working from home have taken their toll on people and it is not anywhere near ending globally. So having a wellbeing strategy in place is essential to success, profitability and productivity. A company should be able to answer a few simple but fundamental questions such as what it wants to achieve with the wellbeing audit, who to help, and how it will know that the goals have been achieved. The assessment of employee mental health through psychometrics is critical in comprehending the changing needs of the workforce. It is important to consider how loyal, productive, and engaged your employees will be with what you are trying to achieve as a company in the new online environment. The wellbeing audit should consider physical , psychological, behavioural and economic factors which can either enhance and hamper an employees wellbeing.

3. Adapt & Implement your new wellbeing strategy
In tandem with new working circumstances, most companies have to alter their own culture and years of responding to the markets. They have to ensure that their leaders have what it takes to be human-centric and have empathy to assist the rest of the workforce with upgrading their skills when disruptions have become the new norm. In case a company had a wellbeing program in place prior to the pandemic then things will be smoother during the transition to homeworking. What is required is to review your program and make the necessary adaptations. For example, if you are offering gym membership to your employees, then you may want to halt that funding and redirect the money to mental health awareness training that will enhance your employees’ resilience and emotional intelligence whilst reducing stress. Communicating effectively via Zoom , Skype, Slack or on the phone can be a real struggle for some especially with anxiety in particular social anxiety therefore you should consider offering training , support and psychotherapy. Furthering your strategy, when you get the green light to return to physical working from your government, you can ask your employees what they think about such a prospect. Would that make them feel better, maybe more productive or will they be fearful of their health deteriorating? It is critical to gain regular feedback on how your wellbeing strategy is working as it allows you to adapt it and make any necessary changes. Be crystal clear with what you ask of your workforce and keep communicating with them calmly and confidently. It will most certainly create the impression, everything is under control and you can collectively get through this.

4.Keep it open and transparent
Remote working has increased the need for co-workers to trust one another whilst displaying a strong team spirit. Employees and organizations are required to establish effective ways of working whilst not being observed by their supervisors or managers. Managers must learn to trust that employees will complete their tasks on time and correctly although they cannot directly observe and monitor employees. What is encouraging, although we are social distancing, companies that have wellbeing strategies in place and work with their employees develop more resilient and adaptive teams of people. They can create a sense of responsibility and connectedness against the pandemic and the hardships it has brought upon us all.

5. Be perceptive
It is not everyday that businesses have their entire workforce providing their services remotely. Moreover, this change had to be done rapidly leaving no time for people to adjust. But the fact that the majority of companies managed to put strategies in place and make this work, proves how agile we can be. For some business leader’s the pandemic was a working gift, as it helped them to understand the limitations of their companies whilst acknowledging that homeworking has wellbeing benefits for some empoyees. Most importantly, their newfound ability to arm their employees with new skills, mindsets, and resilience will be the factor that will determine their place in the digital workplace.

The pandemic has enforced on us new ways of living, feeling, and eventually working. For companies and businesses that decided to take a step forward and prioritize wellbeing, Covid-19 provided impetus for growth and agility. They adjusted their wellbeing strategies or devised them from scratch which ultimately benefited their employees by teaching them new skills and mindsets for unprecedented times

Martina delivers transformational and dynamic training which lead to peak performance, enhanced profits and performance. Rapha Therapy and Training Services delivers CPD Accredited courses including Signature Course Rivers to Resilience Training.