COVID-19 – How to Lead Your Workplace Right Now

There is no playbook on how to respond to COVID-19. Social distancing, self-quarantines, and stockpiling supplies have become common responses. With many employees working from home, conferences have been postponed, canceled, or happening virtually. Due to the rapidly evolving concerns about the virus, leaders like you need to find a balance between being extremely cautious and conducting necessary business operations.

Here are some suggestions to help you navigate your team through COVID-19.

Deploy Your Crisis Management Committees

Put your crisis management teams into action. They need to provide information about COVID-19 awareness, prevention, management, and hygiene practices to leaders, managers, and front-line employees. The teams also must enact management protocols, and business continuity plans to lead current actions and potential responses to future events. These activities may include reducing to business-critical operations only, cross-training team members to fulfill critical responsibilities in case another teammate is quarantined, and restricting business travel. If an employee or family member is diagnosed with COVID-19, ensure they follow protocol. This may involve reporting confirmed cases to HR or management, disinfecting anything they may have touched, and informing coworkers, customers, and clients they may have had contact with.

Monitor Employees’ Wellbeing

Stay informed on team members’ overall wellbeing. Since most should be working from home, ask for regular updates on their physical and mental health. Remind staff members of the employee assistance programs available to them, including mental health services available for stress management. Provide information on employees’ compensation and benefits, such as employer-sponsored health insurance. Allow paid time off for team members who become symptomatic or need to care for a family member. Encourage the use of short-term disability insurance, time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act, childcare subsidies, or other existing benefits.

Frequently Communicate

Communicate with staff daily, weekly, or when new information becomes available. Everyone must remain updated on your company’s response to COVID-19 advice, policies, and protocols. Be sure to tailor email, text messages, hotlines, and internal systems communications to the recipients, such as leaders, managers, and employees. You may include FAQs or links to authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The World Health Organization, or local governments. Remind everyone to obtain information from credible sources, stay calm, and not spread misinformation. Emphasize the importance of obtaining adequate food, water, medicine, and other essentials in case of quarantine.

Lead Your Workplace Through COVID-19

As a leader during COVID-19, your example to employees is more important now than ever. Overcommunicating with team members keeps everyone informed about changes within the company and professional organizations providing updates on the virus. Showing ongoing concern for staff members’ overall wellbeing reminds them you care about them. Demonstrating calm behavior encourages others to follow your lead while moving forward through uncertain times.

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Does Your Company’s Work Environment Impact Productivity?

Productivity levels depend on more than just your employees. Although staff can get more rest at night, eat breakfast, and take other steps to increase their output, there are steps you, the employer, can take to help as well. Focusing on the following areas helps to create a work environment that encourages workers to be more productive.

Lighting

All forms of lighting have a strong impact on productivity. Therefore, you want to provide windows near work areas to promote concentration and comfort. Keep overhead lighting bright to increase feelings of happiness. In winter, offer lamps that compensate for the reduced exposure to sunlight. This will increase calmness and decrease depression.

Company Culture

Cultivate a culture that promotes positivity. Everyone needs support to develop their uniqueness and feel valued. Encourage employees to build networks inside the office so they feel a sense of belonging. People who feel valued at work give their all each day.

Noise Levels

Monitor noise levels within the work environment. Because noise is a top workplace interrupter, it affects productivity. Since some people function better with noise and others without, aim to create room for both types of workers to fill their needs. For instance, install a white noise machine, or enforce quiet hours during the day.

Furnishings

Provide comfortable furnishing for employees. This is especially important if they sit for long periods of time. Include adjustable desks to allow workers to stretch their legs and ergonomic keyboards to prevent wrist injuries. Staff will feel more relaxed, less stressed, and more productive.

Color

Brighten wall colors to stimulate productivity. Low-wavelength colors such as blue and green improve calmness, focus, and efficiency. Medium-wavelength colors like yellow create feelings of happiness, optimism, and creativity. High-wavelength colors such as red increase heart rate and energy level

Designated Spaces

Design dedicated spaces to fill various needs. For instance, provide coworking spaces with relaxation rooms for employees to take a nap or meditate. Offer quiet, private spaces for staff who make frequent calls. Create collaborative spaces for those working on a team project. Include standing desks so workers can gather together to share ideas.

Air Quality

Provide the highest air quality possible. Having more oxygen going to the brain promotes concentration and increases energy. For instance, maintaining the air conditioning system prevents it from dehydrating staff so they stay focused on their work.

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