This is a guest post (by Bash Sarmiento):

It has been more than a year grappling with the surmountable challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon its emergence, many groped in the dark and were presented with financial hardships that surfaced. The economy has experienced major signs of losses that were suffered by the majority in the labor market. Of course, companies had to make cost-saving measures causing adults from all walks of life and industries to lose their bread and butter. The mass layoffs, according to the Pew Research Center (2020), caused the majority to exhaust their savings just to stay afloat. Some had turned to food banks to keep up and minimize expenses in order to finance their bills, and rent or mortgage payments. It was a sight not to see.

For the lucky few who retained their jobs, it was twice as hard performing — especially for the seasoned workers who were forced to, for the first time, be acquainted with the remote work setup being the only glimmer of hope companies tossed their last coin into to keep the business running and profitable. However, lesser people reporting to work only meant that their tasks and workloads have also doubled while their salary figures remained the same. It is not all roses working from home. Ikram (2021) revealed that the virtual office can pose a threat to the productivity and motivation of employees. Home offices are also exposed to a lot of distractions and are not really conducive to working. These disparities from the physical office can result in the derailment of momentum and therefore lower job performance. It is true that the remote work setup offers a great opportunity for work and life balance but it is also true that it comes with its own set of drawbacks. The Global Employee Healthy Study Data from Aetna International (2020) leaked the negative impacts drawn by remote work. Eighty-four workers agreed that their mental health is more important to them now than it was a year ago and forty percent believed that lack of social interaction among their colleagues may be the springboard for future mental health issues. These facts only proved that companies, more so their leaders, should have a moral obligation to provide their employees with a helping hand in these physically, emotionally, and financially demanding times, and assist with a remote work setup that works. Now is the right time to set free the economist approach in running a business and begin with one that is straight from the heart, with compassion, empathy, and concern. After all, it is not a surprising fact that everyone is coping and putting their game masks on. Open your eyes to a different perspective by leaning to these:

Make it easy for your employees to perform their job functions. Strategize ways on how they can get the job done fast but with accuracy. Do a training needs analysis that can identify parts of their functions where the difficulty is more predominant and hence need assistance with. Make use of an effective asynchronous communications platform so that everyone has a common channel where they can share and let loose all of their concerns and frustrations. Not only is this helpful for performing their jobs but it can also be a means to foster a positive remote work culture

Provide mental health and wellness programs via virtual events and make sure to include time for check-ins. Check-ins are an ideal way to practice positive speech and make employees feel they are heard. The main goal of check-ins is to establish an open discourse between and among employees so that you can have an insight into whatever they might be feeling at the time of their reporting or simply for them to reveal their personalities to you. This effort can pay it off by having lesser employees feeling lonely, monotonous, and stale.

Recognize employees’ small wins by dishing out rewards and electronic badges. These do not always have to be monetary in form. The pandemic has shown us great instances where money is not always favored in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes, a plain recognition or credit is already enough to suffice the hard work done especially in this distance. If you can, your employees can also appreciate a gift or a token that you can send them over. These need not be expensive.

As a leader, you are morally liable for ensuring that all of your employees are happy, motivated, and feeling fulfilled. Supporting your employees can be beneficial to you and your company in the years to come. You must detach yourself from the idea that both physical and virtual offices are the same because it really is not. Go outside the box and experiment. It may not come out as a success at your first attempt but your employees will appreciate that you, and not just them, are also trying your best. That is the kind of leadership the world needs today.



About the Author:

Bash Sarmiento is a writer and an educator from Manila. He writes laconic pieces in the education, lifestyle, and health realms. His academic background and extensive experience in teaching, textbook evaluation, business management, and traveling are translated into his works.





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