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Overcoming home working fatigue: Tips to re-energize your staff and keep productive

Following the lockdown, many people shifted their workstations at home. When the lockdown was lifted, they continued home working. Every change comes with a silver lining. Save time that would otherwise be spent in a traffic jam. And of course, save transport money. Most important, homeworking has helped many people reconnect with their partners and children. You connect and bond, by staying longer together and having many opportunities to share meals, games, and even stories.

Some people have found the experience tough.

With small home spaces, finding a quiet place at home to place the workstation is a tough call. The result has been working from a common area like the family dining room or living room or bedroom. As one works, children and or pets could easily join thereby causing distractions and loss of concentration. For some people, such disruptions could cause fatigue. The fact that you are around the same environment through and through affects your creativity.

So, how do you re-energize your staff to remain productive?

The starting point is to understand the staff working environment and provide support to set up a comfortable workstation. It is recommended the identified space in the home is somehow exclusive and closed off from the usual common areas like the living room. That way, you can set up office hours which are communicated to other family members to minimize unnecessary disruptions. Having a stable Internet connection is critical for the staff. The employer must make such services easily accessible.

During the pandemic, the cost of living has increased while incomes have reduced. When one is working from home, members may lose hope in case the breadwinner is not moving out of the house to find something. The employer needs to provide financial support to the staff especially timely salary payments to staff.

Most importantly, there is a need for timely communications and updates to keep everyone on the same page. Now is the team for on-going communications, to keep everyone updated. Homeworking staff may get concerned about their value to the business. Without a collaborative forum and team engagements, this could be a source of loss of morale and productivity. People need to know the priorities (which always change) due to the uncertain and dynamic times. Does the leader share the vision and targets ongoing? Do the staff provide timely feedback? Are there ongoing virtual meetings among colleagues to network and confer on projects? These kinds of virtual engagements are critical for team bonding and support.

Counselling support services. During a tough time like these, many staff is undergoing challenging times. Some of them could be the inability to support their families, others have lost loved ones due to the pandemic, and many others their lives just are low because their partners lost their jobs or just seeing their children seated at home without studying. Depending on the age of your respective staff, it is important to categorize them and arrange on-going support through professional counselling services virtually. And depending on the interactions, options could be provided for specific support to staff who may need it. The employer must arrange such services to provide care and psychosocial support to the staff.

To be continued.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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