Whether your business has had to close, you're working from home, or if you're still operating, this blog will help you through the lockdown. Strap yourselves in.
If you have had to close your business or you're thinking it might be on the cards, you're probably already aware of your options for your employees (lay offs, furlough, annual leave, unpaid sabbaticals or worst case, redundancy).
The most important thing for you to do at this stage is maintain communication with your employees.
Keep talking on Whatsapp, Zoom, Skype, whatever works for your team. Whilst it's a stressful situation for you, it's also a scary time for them. Take the time to support one another through this time to make sure you all stay sane. Wellbeing is so, so important.
Another way to keep sane is to start thinking about your business continuity plan. When Boris tells us we can crack on again, what is going to be your plan to get up and running again as quickly as possible?
How can you easily communicate the same message to everyone?
Will you need everyone back in at the same time, or will you need to stagger it?
Will you need to get stock ordered in?
How much time will you need to be fully operational again and can any of this be going on in the background before the lockdown is lifted?
Your plan will need to adapt and be flexible since we don't know a time frame, but it's something positive to think about! In addition to this, think about whether there is anything you want to change about your business model. Do you want to do things differently in the future? How do you want to be able to react to a pandemic in the future?
Working From Home
It's what we all want, but not quite like this! Thankfully technology has given us this wonderful option of being able to continue business activity whilst keeping our employees safe. But as with most things, there are challenges we need to be aware of when employees work from home.
I usually find there are two types of home worker. There is the type of home worker that will send a couple of emails in between episodes of The Stranger, and then there is the type that religiously stays glued to their laptop all day for fear of being accused of skiving. You'll need to make sure you have a way of managing your Netflix binger so that you know essential work is getting done. You should also be clear that employees still need to take regular breaks away from their screen. While we're on the topic, it sounds obvious but make sure your teams have the facilities they need to work comfortably. Sitting on the sofa with their laptop all day is no good for the posture! Also think about the fact that the employees are using their own WiFi, electricity etc so do you have a policy which covers off who is responsible for all these things? If not, let me know and I can sort one for you.
I feel like a broken record, but you just can't communicate enough.
Particularly in times like these. Keep in touch with your remote workers through a weekly team Zoom call or group chat, but also make 121 time available as you normally would.
The other thing to remember is children. Children at home are rather distracting so if an employee is a single parent home schooling, they might not be able to get much work done at home.
On the whole though, working from home offers great flexibility for teams and since the lockdown, I've seen it increase the amounts that teams are communicating with each other.
Business As Usual
For some of you lucky ducks, your business is essential and must keep going as usual despite the apocalyptic atmosphere.
Again, keep communicating with your teams. This is really important to help quash rumours that start to circulate.
Stay ahead of the curve and give out as much information as you can.
If you get an employee go off with symptoms, make sure your return to work process is really clear to everyone so their colleagues will feel comfortable welcoming them back to work. You don't want employees treating that person like a lepur.
Morale and engagement can be a massive challenge in times like this. Your key workers might be thinking "why am I working my arse off when I could be watching Netflix at home and getting paid for it? I quite fancy a few weeks off." So it's up to you to make sure they feel special for being part of the effort to keep the country running. It doesn't need to be anything OTT, donuts usually do the trick.
Lastly, always be thinking ahead. Make sure you have a plan in case the country no longer needs your business, in case your whole team goes into self-isolation, in case of any other istuation which may arise. Have some sort of loose plan in place to help you react effectively. I have seen companies deal with this crisis really well and proactively and I've seen others make weird, knee-jerk reactions to it through a lack of planning and understanding. Don't be that guy.
Whatever situation your business is in right now, Lilac HR can support you to deal withwhere you are now, or help you plan for the future, no matter how uncertain.
You are not alone in this.
Get in touch if there's anything you want to talk about.
Stay safe out there