Mandatory Work from Home Due to Pandemic

By Criss Marshall • March 17, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are making it mandatory for employees to work from home for an extended period of time. Yours might be one of them. And even though there might be a stated “end date,” it is unclear to everyone how long this will go on. Last week I attended a webinar to help prepare for managing a remote team.

Some of the key takeaways from the webinar are:

  • “Forced” work from home due to a pandemic is very different from “planned” work from home; the former carries more unknowns while the latter is intentional
  • The first thing to break down with a mandate to work from home is communication, followed by a feeling of disconnection and even a deterioration of culture
  • Remote employees need to adopt a self-service and a self-learning mindset

We have talked with several of our customers who are in the midst of mandatory work from home situations to understand the impact on them. In addition to hearing the above bullets, what we learned is that their employees are flooding their IT help desks with questions – and they are not all IT related. The majority of the questions are related to the pandemic and how to navigate through it.

So how do we help our employees cope with the unknown, lack of communication, and feelings of disconnection that come with a mandatory work from home situation? And how do we get them comfortable with adopting a self-service mindset?

Some of the actionable things stated in the webinar are:

  • Give remote employees metrics for what you are expecting to help them demonstrate progress and feel accomplishments
  • Schedule a virtual lunch (or happy hour) where everyone can join a Zoom session with their lunch (or favorite beverage) to have a conversation just like they would in person
  • Have daily stand up meetings to synch at a high level just as employees might do when they are waiting for their turn to get coffee
  • Encourage individuals to take ownership for structuring their days, with social and mental breaks included

In addition, if you are an Espressive customer, be sure to arm Barista with answers to questions around the pandemic. We have just updated our Employee Language Cloud so that Barista will recognize questions like, “What is our policy around Coronavirus?” and “What do I do about the Coronavirus?”. You can also let your Espressive customer success manager know if you want to redirect any questions related to working from home (e.g., “Should I be working from home?”) to your Coronavirus policy. Then notify your employees that Barista is the best place to get answers to their questions while they are remote. If you need our help, please let us know. We want to help keep everyone informed during this time.

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