At the start of the pandemic, I hunkered down and began working from home. Instead of setting up camp in my home office, I craved sunlight, trees, and being connecting to life outside of my home. My new digs, AKA dining room, provided a big window that allowed me to view nature and other people that were not in my actual physical space. As the remote work continues, I realized I welcomed the presence of my neighbors, mailman, landscapers, Amazon delivery drivers, and the kids on their bikes.

Many of my clients are essential businesses. Their employees work in restaurants, retail stores, medical practices, multi-family apartments, and service organizations. But, most of the administrative employees continue to work remotely. These remote employees comment that their day is more productive and comfortable. They also state that they are lonely, even if they are home schooling their children or spending time with their four-legged family. One worker said, “I crave adult/workplace connection and interaction. When I do not have teammates in the next office, I become a department of one. I do not have the benefit of bouncing ideas off another person for creative problem solving.”

That is a challenge!

A recent Boston Consulting Group (BCG) survey of 12,000 employees in the US, India, and Germany found 60% of employees said they want some flexibility in where and/or when they work (the response was 67% in the US). This flexibility will have impact on the recruitment and engagement of employees. Over 70% of managers surveyed stated they are more open to flexible models for their teams. The future of work will be increasingly hybrid.

Here are some of my thoughts from an HR perspective…

Remote workplace practices are not a “nice to have,” they are now a “need to have!”
• Gain input, create, and introduce a remote work policy to employees. In the absence of guidance and boundaries, employees will make up the rules as they go along and those may not be aligned with the
desires of the company.
• Review job descriptions to ensure the roles and responsibilities employees “used to do” reflect your new work reality.
• Review your policies and procedures to align with any changes in business.

Regarding the topic of productivity, 75% of employees said they have been able to maintain or improve productivity on their individual tasks. On collaborative tasks (including exchanges with coworkers, working in teams, and interacting with clients), the number is lower. But even so, more than half—51%—of all respondents said productivity has improved on these tasks.

The survey analyzed four specific areas: social connectivity, mental health, physical health, and workplace tools. Below are survey findings from Boston Consulting Group and my ideas for impact.

Social Connectivity
• Employees who reported satisfaction with social connectivity are two to three times more likely to have maintained or improved their productivity on collaborative tasks.
• Employees miss the “social connectivity, being able to spontaneously walk to a co-worker’s desk, and/or social gatherings at work.”
MY IDEAS
• Set up a “zoom room” that is open during the day. Employees who are in office or remote can join and work on their individual tasks while visually seeing other people on the team. This minimizes the
feeling of “aloneness,” and helps replicate the ad hoc, water cooler moments.
• Schedule fun activities (virtually) with the team. I recently attended a Halloween costume contest complete with pageant and prizes.
To guide inclusion, read the last What the Hecht? Blog When Being Inclusive is Exclusive!

Mental Health
• People who have experienced better mental health during the pandemic are about two times more likely to maintain or improve their productivity on collaborative tasks.
• Approximately 29% of respondents stated that they have experienced worse overall mental health during COVID-19, and this is typified by depression, loneliness, and anxiety.
MY IDEAS
• Understand the mental health options available through your insurance and/or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and publicize and communicate these to all employees.
• If you do not have these services, identify an option, such as a therapist or help line, and share these confidential resources with employees via intranet, the payroll system, etc.

Physical Health
• Employees who have experienced better physical health during the pandemic are about twice as likely to have maintained or improved their productivity on collaborative tasks.
MY IDEAS
• Publicize wellness offerings and challenges that are provided through benefit carriers, if applicable. These could include information concerning healthy eating, sleep, exercise, meditation, etc.
• If your company does not offer a wellness program, identify resources, articles, or applications on the topics listed in the bullet above and share these with your employees.

Workplace Tools
• Employees who are satisfied with their workplace tools are about twice as likely to have maintained or improved their productivity on collaborative tasks.
MY DEAS
• Provide specific company guidelines and ideas how to create a space that is easy and cost effective.
• Some companies have offered a remote work allowance to help defray the cost of an employee’s remote work set-up. This may sound onerous but may be an inexpensive alternative to physical office space.

Realize this is not a “one and done” the work world will continue to quickly evolve, and we need to change with it.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new!”
– Socrates

When you need a partner to assist with these workplace challenges, call us for a complimentary meeting at https://calendly.com/schedule-time-with-glenna