How I Supported My Workforce during COVID-19: A Journey as an Entrepreneur
As we reopen and retry making our businesses stand over the losses of COVID-19, we must gather the strength to continue. The economy ratings for India show how the country is going to go through more difficult stages in the upcoming months. And this will directly impact all types of businesses. From essential service companies to luxury businesses, each sector is going to face a hard time in some way or the other. While the core of some businesses may find a space to bloom, many other organizations may face the dilemma of moving on. But amidst all of these, as leaders and entrepreneurs,we must fight to continue.
Operating from Bengaluru, Karnataka, my organization has been able to get back to the routine days to an extent like many other companies in the city. However, some of our teams are still functioning virtually. This is because the dread of the disease is still out there, and we need to make peace with it.
Business leaders need to be patient on this one. COVID-19 has fractured us in so many ways that it will take a longer time to recover, and we need to give that time to oneself and others. This also goes for organizations that are finding it extremely difficult to survive. All we can do is find out solutions that can make us stand strong and live through this time. But many organizations are finding it difficult to even reopen and one of the major reasons for this is the inadequacy of companies to provide safety to their workforces. Now, when I say safety, it doesn't just mean the inclusion of face masks and hand sanitizers in the workplace. Due to the rising number of cases, a fear of getting exposed to the disease is now deeply rooted in everyone. This makes it harder than ever for the employees to come to work freely. In a way, the fear of the disease has ruptured the liberty of people to go to work with an open mind. This is resulting in a somewhat forced reopening of offices which is making it difficult for companies to continue.
So what can be done to make things better at the office?
My team has been constantly studying the various changes in the psychology of working people to improve workplace design experiences in our existing projects. What we found is that people are missing their offices and they want to get back to their normal routine life, but due to the ineffectiveness of safety measures and guidelines, people are hesitating to go to the office. So, this is the point where organizations need to take those extra steps in redefining the workplace policies and design to secure the safeguard of their people.
How can organizations bring in safety among their people?
The first step would be to redefine the workplace settings. People need to see the changes. That's why a reconfiguration of the design settings is very essential.
Rework on the collaboration areas, maintain distancing in between workstations, modify the meeting rooms, include technology to make the digital pivot, and give access to personal hygiene in every corner of the office. This restructuring of the office settings will ensure an apparent change in the working strategy that will help employees gain psychological security.
Another important step for organizations is to ensure emotional security among the employees by making relevant changes in the policies. If one does not already exist, it is advisable to develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan to help guide protective actions against COVID-19 and such diseases that may arise in the future. Organizations must go through all the guidelines from state, local, or territorial health agencies and include workplace-specific policies and make them transparent to the staff. The workforce needs to know that their health and safety is prioritized. And it is important for business leaders to come to the forefront and take care of their staff so that they can get back to work without any fear.
Significance of giving out the message
For businesses to continue in this time, promoting the measures you are taking to ensure the safety of your workforce and your workplace will be helpful. Just like the big brands are promoting their safety actions on different platforms to make sure their customers and employees feel protected, it is advisable to small businesses as well to do their bit. Even highlighting simple activities in your organization, like a regular announcement of breaks for hand wash, can work great for the business. So, be it about the internal steps undertaken as an organization, or creating hygiene tips for your followers and giving out the message on social media to ensure the credibility of safety at your workplace and in your products/services, will impact positively on your company.
Giving out the message that as a leader or as a company you are doing the necessary things will send out the right communication across your audience and followers.
Emotional guidance and help to the employees
In a time like this, retaining the right people is very important for any organization. So, try and hold on to your staff throughout this time. If we see how recessions had behaved in the earlier times, we would know that it gets better over time. So it will be helpful if organizations manage to keep the workforce intact. With layoff news bringing nightmares to every working person, companies must try to guide and help their workforce. Because, as the country’s financial turmoil takes the front seat, every working person now needs a cushion to feel relieved. So, if you and your organization are in a position to provide help and support to your employees, it would be the perfect time to do so.
Emotional support includes giving enough time and flexibility to your employees so that they can get back to their old selves at work. In this situation, they would need their time and space to gather the mindfulness at work. Hence, as an organisation’s leader, one can appoint internal managers to keep a tab on the teams and supporting anyone in need. For example, if employees are in their home towns, give them the time to manage and come back to the office without rushing it. If employees are pleading to extend work from home, try and understand the situation and then take decisions.
For businesses to continue during COVID-19, business leaders must get involved in other aspects of the business. Just like a captain steering their ship towards the right path, a leader can take a hold of the chaos and patiently guide their organization out of the pandemic to continue. The trick is to agree with the losses and move on with better plans.