How to Manage Zoom, Family, and Distractions in Current Crisis

Working from home these days is a juggling act like no other. There’s our job, if you still have one. Then there’s work we do for our homes, if you mean how to stave off distractions — from the plants that have suddenly gained attention, to some area in our home that needs tending, even repairing, to the streaming entertainment that’s just a remote control away. 

Everyone notices the “little” things these days — and that includes the kids at home and, if married, the spouse we share office space with. The couch is tempting but we all know what happens there. It’s where we doze off the most.

It’s all because of the Covid-19 virus and how it has turned our lives upside down to the point where life feels like it has slowed down, almost to a creepy crawl, as day in and day out in lockdown mode means our eyes see the same things everyday.

That’s the family unit and then there’s the massive transformation happening in our stores and organization. In Future Workplace’s recent survey, entitled The Impact of the Coronavirus in the Workplace, conducted among 350 HR leaders in the USA to explore this question, Forbes contributor Jeannie Meister shared some insights on how this new normal of work is evolving within organizations.

1) There will be a ramp up on training and investment in remote working

In the Our Future Workplace survey, The Impact of the Coronavirus in the Workplace, some questions asked included, “In what ways does your company offer training on how to successfully work from home?” Meister said the responses ranged from offering both worker training and manager training, to mentoring, coaching, and even launching Employee Resource Groups targeted to remote workers and their families.  

Microsoft is reportedly going one step further. It created a Guide to Working From Home During COVID-19. This guide was shared with the Microsoft global workforce and a version was made available to customers as an editable document to use with their own organizations.

The link to Microsoft’s customizable Flexible Work Lead is here: In her piece, Meister quoted Microsoft’s Rachel Russell as saying, “We designed the document to support our employees working from home during this outbreak, some for the first time and many with others at home as well. 

Our guidance ranges from setting up your physical and virtual workspace to managing your time and wellbeing, as well as specific guidance for managers. Everyone’s experience is different, and we continue to offer learning resources and community spaces, like Yammer groups, where employees can ask questions, share anecdotes, and brainstorm ideas for staying healthy, engaged, and productive.”

The Guide to Working From Home balances the mechanics of working from home with the emotional implications of managing it all: work, home, children, and importantly, your own self-care.

2) The future of work Is the future of worker well-being

Quoting Cecilia Tse, Wellbeing Strategy Leader, PwC says, “We are committed to helping build our people’s wellbeing and we define this to include their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. But we are going beyond viewing wellbeing as a perk, we are being prescriptive to provide our people guidance and suggestions for habits they can consider forming in each of these areas on our PwC Be well, work well Habit Bank.”

This focus on worker wellbeing is especially important, as workers experience anxiety in dealing with the coronavirus. Our Future Workplace survey asked the question, How is your organization dealing with increased anxiety during the coronavirus pandemic? Here are top 10 ways organizations are dealing with increased anxiety during the pandemic:

  1. Create an employee resource group for remote workers
  2. Implement more frequent senior leader town halls and check-ins
  3. Bring in health specialists to host online Q&A sessions about the coronavirus
  4. Communicate frequent reminders on your company’s EAP program
  5. Create new Water Cooler Opportunities for workers to connect to each other
  6. Launch an employee hotline manned by doctors and counselors available to employees and their families
  7. Make company wide announcements on adjustments to paid leave, PO, carry-over vacation and other benefits 
  8. Create local solutions such as setting up emergency response teams in regions with high densities of employees
  9. Curate a list of online wellbeing resources, podcasts, exercise sessions and other self-care courses
  10. Acknowledge anxiety in one on one and group meetings and talk about it

3) The coronavirus can be an opportunity to redefine your business

The coronavirus pandemic is fundamentally shifting how we live and do business and will accelerate the Fourth Industrial Revolution, fueled by smart technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and mobile supercomputing. The Future Workplace Survey asked HR leaders, How could the Coronavirus be advantageous to your business? Figure 3 shows the range of responses where some HR leaders saw the coronavirus as an opportunity.

In 2017, FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics estimated the number of people working remotely increased 159% between 2005 and 2017, with a 44% rate of growth in the last five years of that span.

The coronavirus is making companies, employees and their managers more comfortable with working from home. From now on, everyone will question taking that flight to see a client if he or she can communicate on a new project using Zoom.

More companies will move from hiring based on degree pedigree to hiring based on skills and more apprenticeship jobs will surge. 

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