By Mark Strassman
The recent news of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine efficacy is promising. A group of scientists will have beaten a novel disease less than a year after its outbreak. Go science! Finally a light at the end of the tunnel…
However, today COVID cases are spiking, we’re into the winter, and vaccine availability is still months away, so we are not returning to the office, and to a more normal life until mid-2021. The events of 2020 have impacted everyone differently. As we start to look forward, it’s an opportunity for reflection and learning, of a year riddled with anxiety and dread.
At work, through all of this, we have asked employees to continue coming to work – albeit virtually – as business goes on even during a worldwide crises. Yet, to pretend it’s been “business as usual” is naive. How does one stay productive when there are so many things on our minds? We as business leaders have a duty to our employees to understand their challenges and acknowledge that sometimes work is the last thing on their minds.
Through these periods of disruption, I’ve found comfort in establishing new routines. Even the simplest habits can help normalize a hectic and uncertain time. These are the small ways that I’m getting work done and helping my teams maintain productivity.
Increase physical activity – Spending less time sitting and more time moving always helps alleviate stress. As many employees are working out of home offices, I want to ensure they have enough time to get out of the confines of that space. I’ve started encouraging standing during meetings, and having more mobile meetings where team members go for a walk while on a call, especially with my one-one meetings. The movement and fresh air does a lot for our well-being, and while I love video meetings, sometimes it’s great to get of the screen and just have a phone call.
Schedule open meetings – I previously wrote about the value I find in unstructured meetings. They’ve become even more helpful as it’s important employees find ample avenues to connect and express themselves. An open, collaborative environment can provide the opportunity for a colleague to express a thought they might have been holding back.
Unplug after work – When working remotely, it can be tempting to keep your laptop open as you make dinner or turn on the television. It seems harmless, but maintaining an always-on mindset can lead to burnout at work, and isolation from your family at home. Especially when you’re facing other stress, it’s important to effectively turn off from work. Spend time with family, talk with friends, get outside, cook a nourishing meal, and read a non-work-related book – these are all ways I turn off at the end of the day.
It’s impossible to predict what the future will bring, but there are certainly more unknowns to come. Even for organizations that are starting to think about resuming standard operations in light of an impending vaccine, the pandemic is getting worse, is far from over, and even the post-pandemic landscape will be full of changes.
Throughout the next several unpredictable months, keep in mind that employees will be struggling to focus on their day-to-day work. It’s up to managers and leadership to provide enough direction, communications, and support through these strange times. Always keep an open line of communication and go the extra mile to empathize with and support each other. At LogMeIn, we’ve started offering monthly mental health holidays for all employees. It shows how grateful the organization is for our employees’ dedication and gives them more time to unwind.
Finally, there is an obligation for organizations to ensure their employees are being heard during this time. While getting involved in political conversations could make some organizations nervous, supporting their employees should not. I’m proud of how vocal LogMeIn has been, both internally and externally, in supporting our employees and our communities. These are the times that test organizations and show their true colors.