Lessons for our workplaces from the Corona Virus crisis.
Updated: Mar 10
Corona. The business impact is undeniable. It’s reflected in the markets and revised company forecasts. It makes the truly global nature of our world visible to even the last remaining cynic.
The advice from employers - rightly putting their people’s health above all else - is to stay home if you feel unwell, avoid unnecessary travel, work from home leveraging technology to find other ways to collaborate together and create value.
Sounds like the advice well-being coaches have been telling us for years … that usually falls on deaf ears. This outbreak also highlights cases of people who in 2020 still don’t have the “luxury” of working from home or even staying off work when they are ill (some of them working in hospitals and caring roles) because they can’t make ends meet if they lose a few of days of income.
Surely in 2020 there are more people now in a position to reflect and learn from this, and to make lasting changes in the workplace that enable healthier more sustainable habits even once we have this new virus “under control”? I was fortunate to join a group of more than 80 such people this morning on the virtual "Workplace Wellbeing in a Crisis" workshop organised by Shake Up the Workplace.
Here are my key-take aways....
1. Communicate clear, practical guidelines and advice: Travel restrictions? Hygiene guidelines? which meetings can take place? who should work from home? Update every couple of days so people are sure they have the lastest information.
2. Point people to places where they can get reliable information - official websites and local points of contact in their workplace (Single Point Of Contact (SPOCS) in HR and the Business). This can help to counteract exposure to more scandal-focussed media reports that trigger our fears and throw us into a selfish survival mode mindset.
3. Acknowledge that you have a diverse workforce and that people have different levels of "risk tolerance". Provide clear guidelines but allow people to behave in ways they feel comfortable with so they can continue to function at their best. For some that will entail panic buying and self-isolation whilst others will continue "business as usual".
4. Ensure your workforce is already familiar with mindfulness concepts and practices which allow them to keep grounded and breathe through the "fight or flight" instincts that make us panic and act in selfish ways to make better decisions and direct their energy on doing things that count.
5. Benchmark / Share Best Practice with other companies in the same situation - learning what works from each other saves time and reduces confusion between employees of different companies.
6. Ensure your IT environment is able to cope with more people working remotely. Should be part of a good Business Continuity Plan - but seemingly many companies are currently caught off-guard.
7. Ensure your employees are practiced and comfortable using online collaboration tools that allows them to collaborate remotely. For me personally this is one of the main positive effects of this Corona Crisis - it "forces" people to learn to use the tools that allow them to collaborate more effectively and inclusively with colleagues in other locations!
8. Rethink events and find ways to stay "in the driving seat" by shaping them to be virtual events
9. Allow for conversation and discussion that lets people air their different perspectives, concerns and beliefs and infuse these conversations with questions that guide people to see the positive aspects of the situation. By shifting focus from, for example, the number of deaths to the number of cases of people who have had the virus and survived, and looking for proof of progress we can stay positive and grateful which strengthens your immune system and ability to think straight.
What do you think, will we learn from this? Or will we all just rush back to business as usual and try to catch up?