It has been a while since we made the switch to work-from-home for all of our people. Because we put our people’s safety first and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, we are still working remotely company-wide, with no set end date until we can be confident that everyone can come back safely. Even when things are deemed safe enough for a return, we as an organization have decided to embrace the WFH model whenever possible and will strive to offer more flexibility for employees that wish to continue to do so. We learned important lessons in supporting our people remotely and we’ll highlight a few of them below.
Empathy, Understanding, and Flexibility
Early on, leaders across the board, through either personal experience or employee feedback, realized that employees working from home were facing new and different challenges. While leaders had a good feel for roadblocks and pain points in the office, for many, working remotely full time, and in the midst of a pandemic, meant venturing into uncharted waters where change was the only constant. Kids, family, roommates — there can be a lot going on around you in your home environment. This means that the standard 9-5 approach might not work for everyone. With this realization, leaders encouraged people-managers at all levels to be as flexible as possible, to work with those that needed to take a different approach to work. Between the scores on our latest employee engagement survey and the health of our business, we can confidently say that leading with understanding and empathy has resulted in a great experience for our people and the work we do.
A particular challenge that we have worked hard to meet during this time is how we can better support parents that are having to take on extra responsibilities due to having kids at home full-time. Again, this is where stepping up flexibility and empathy was a must for all leaders. In addition to this expectation of our managers, we also set up working parent groups and resources, created activities for parents to do with their children (such as sending out pumpkin decorating kits), and increasing PTO (for everyone, not just parents).
To help with everyone’s mental health and battle the burnout many employees were indicating, leadership came up with something a little out of the box: half-day Fridays. Many leaders were getting feedback that it was hard to disconnect from work in the WFH shift, and these extra-long weekends help employees get away from their computers and officially switch over to personal time. The initiative has been so successful that leadership has extended half-day Fridays until we are through the pandemic.
Creating a Work Space
To help support our people, we’ve offered a desk stipend to all employees so that they can set up a space in their home where they can concentrate and make the mental switch over to work-mode. Between getting a new desk and the complimentary front door delivery of anything needed from the office by our Facility team, Clearlinkers are able to create a space to help them be comfortable and focused.