The world that was running at a frenzied pace has come to a halt suddenly. It seems apocalyptic, a scene straight out of a movie made on the pandemic topic, where reel meets reality! Scenes like cities turning into ghost towns, parking lots with dusty cars or hoarding daily life essentials that happened during the beginning of the lockdown have an eerie resemblance to the reel-life showcased in some of the sci-fi movies based on a virus that goes pandemic.
COVID 19 has overwhelmed organisations and businesses with challenges; to navigate unchartered territories, and it has jolted our lives out of gear. The topmost priority for companies has been the health, well-being and safety of its employees, customers, partners and communities. Apart from that, managing ambiguity and engaging employees during such times is the need of the hour.
The spiralling of COVID cases beckoned unprecedented lockdown measures to control the spread. With a little forewarning and minimal planning, most organisations have acted fast enough to initiate Work From Home(WFH), in what is being referred to as the “largest work from home experiment ever”. From office workstations or cubicles to home study or dining tables or even one corner of the house, the pandemic has disrupted our work lives for business continuity.
While work has transformed itself from corporations into the households, remote working is here for a long haul, this happened almost overnight, and the most valuable asset to any organisation, i.e. their ‘people’, have been affected the most.
This pandemic has created a situation like never before – the introduction of physical or social distancing for infection prevention; however, it can lead to isolation. Remote working comes with its benefits and drawbacks; hence it is crucial than ever to engage remote employees amidst these unprecedented times.
Organisations understand that engaged employees are an invaluable asset, and they are stepping up to motivate, align and engage their people. The outcome being they are aligned to the company’s goals, dedicated in their work and have a passion for outperforming themselves.
Companies have been taking initiatives not only to engage employees for increased productivity but also have rolled-out actions to keep their children occupied, thus helping parents with some additional work time. At Fabtech too, we have rolled out some of these initiatives to keep our remote workforce engaged and sane during these COVID times.
Bringing office home means blurring lines between home and office work, making it tougher to disconnect from work. A dedicated workspace means much more than the physical aspect of an ergonomic chair and a desk with an individual room. Many of us may not have that luxury yet. It is more from a mindset perspective to focus on getting work done with minimal distractions and equally switch off from work to lessen the struggle that helps to maintain the right work-life balance, and that is what we try to promote at Fabtech.
Dynamic and uncertain situations require leaders to communicate, and nothing can be better than transparent communication to manage employee anxiety during a crisis. When COVID-19 struck, and lockdowns were imposed overnight, tackling the crisis on hand was our priority. Our Founder sprung into action to ease out everyone’s anxiety by sending out communication emailers, discussing company position and the way forward. Also providing regular updates about products, new initiatives taken and solicited inputs and transparent feedback from our employees.
Looking at the brighter side, companies are engaging in innovative initiatives to keep the employees productive and engaged. There has never been a better time for employees to pick up on new skills that they always wished to learn and upgrade themselves, especially for those who may not have been able to contribute through remote working.
Upskilling or learning a new hobby can help address the mental well-being of an employee, and this has prompted many companies to invest in the e-learning way to facilitate upskilling their workforce. They are encouraged to pick up non-work-related courses as well be it Music, Creative Arts, Interior Designing or Fitness as they are great stress relievers.
We have been arranging webinars and virtual live training sessions that are conducted by our employees, and peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing on products and processes as well as related technical topics they are passionate about, like never before. These include inviting external industry experts to share the latest technological happenings in the industry. All of these recordings are saved and retained so that they are accessible for any employee if they have been unable to attend the live sessions. And all the above trainings were conducted at ZERO facilitator cost.
Adding Fun Quotient:
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. This adage can’t be stressed upon enough, particularly in this new environment. Apart from work, social interaction at work is what keeps us going. And we all are missing it and can’t wait for it to return.
Companies across the globe are trying several initiatives to keep employee morale high. While we offer regular updates be tips on remote working, staying safe at home editions and several communications about COVID-19, we focus on fun and team-building initiatives to build and strengthen our relationship with the employees. Online quizzes, popular online games, Virtual Birthday Celebrations with the Founder and promoting health and wellness through Virtual Fitness Sessions were a few fun initiatives from the endless list.
Lockdown has been a difficult period for all from feeling anxious, lonely, distanced and monotonous, and it is a serious concern. To address this concern and understand our employees’ safety and well-being, the HR team has reached out to every employee working remotely through virtual one-on-one sessions. These LINK sessions helped us understand their WFH experience, challenges faced, precautions they were taking to stay safe, and any other apprehensions/ questions, if they had, were also addressed.
Live Sessions with Our Founder:
Once we started working remotely, our Founder has been doing spontaneous sessions to understand the physical and emotional well-being of the employees, sharing company updates, new developments, and even answering complex questions.
Remote working has led to employees spending more time working from home than earlier. Recognising the effort shows that you care especially during such times that help engage and connect with the workforce even though they may be geographically distant. Celebrating and recognising such work can energise and encourage that leads to more great work and promote a feeling of gratitude, caring and sharing.
Several of our employees have walked the talk and become an inspiration for others. Amidst the pandemic lockdown, a few of our Life Engineers ensured that one of our factory located in the interiors was operational to meet customer requirements. Other Life Engineers ascertained that systems and processes were re-mapped to ensure project deliverables were met. Few of our Site Engineers reported to work even during these limiting conditions (restrictions of curfew and local travel restrictions) locally and globally to avoid projects delays and execute them within the promised timeframe. Some of our Site Engineers prioritised work over safety and home, and are yet to meet their families, inspiring the rest of us with their dedication.
We have created a Virtual Employee Recognition Board, where we display such noteworthy accomplishments and more and share them across all offices globally.
A monumental shift from physical workspace to remote work is undertaking place; however, there are specific industries into manufacturing spaces like ours, where we are also making investments in certain processes to ensure the safety of our employees. While it is impossible to say what ripple-effect the largest-ever Remote Work experiment would cause, we should focus on the creation of opportunities to reshape and rebuild our businesses.
There may be a long list of woes concerning the pandemic. But, for now, our energies are focused on our employees well being and safety. I would like to know what steps is your company taking to keep the employees engaged?