Wednesday 1 July 2020 7:09 am

Feeling sluggish? How to boost morale after 100 days in lockdown

Ross Seychell is chief people officer at TransferWise

It’s now been 100 days since the UK’s workforce went remote.

Initially designed to be a three-week precaution, it’s clear that working from home has evolved into an indefinite future in many industries.

While some workers have found it relatively easy to exchange cappuccinos and commutes for Nescafé and Netflix, it has naturally been a challenge to stay energised during this time. 

Read more: Eight tips for nailing the remote job interview

After one full quarter in quarantine, it can be difficult to keep spirits up, so we’ve taken a look at some of the ways you can keep employees positive as the great working from home home experiment continues.

Encourage genuinely honest conversations

It’s easy for people to feel they have to pretend that they’re coping well through lockdown, especially in a professional capacity, where keeping up appearances to managers or colleagues can seem more important than being open.

If you notice your team feeling flat, addressing it can be as simple as asking them the question and engaging in an open discussion to see how you can help. Volunteering your own frustrations can help make people feel more comfortable sharing theirs. 

While an employee’s next-door neighbour using lockdown to rip out their kitchen might be a frustration you both share, it also might be a situation you can cater to, by reducing calls or giving them even more flexible hours.

By opening up and leading by example, you can understand where the problems are for your team, bringing you one step closer to solving them.

Don’t be afraid of organised fun

While my team collectively roll their eyes at the suggestion, I still firmly believe it’s important to bring some fun to the working day, even if we’re all in our living rooms. We’ve seen a huge number of quizzes, virtual drinks, and book clubs, and we’ve even turned our hand to yoga sessions and Fika breaks. 

It’s easy to dismiss these initiatives as trivial or “fluffy”, but when natural office interactions are removed, recreating them formally and adding a structure makes conversation flow more easily — especially over video calls.

Our top tip at this stage in lockdown is to be creative. While the humble quiz is a faithful classic, life drawing, cooking classes, and wine tasting may prove slightly more exciting options — and we’re working our way through the list.

Equip your leaders to help with specific problems 

You might have had robust training processes in place to deal with “regular” workplace issues, but the current situation goes far beyond what we’ve ever had to deal with before.

Whether staff are feeling overwhelmed by the news agenda, struggling to juggle work and childcare, or simply finding out their other half uses phrases like “circle back” and “touch base”, it’s obvious that the stresses we face today are very different to what we’ve previously prepared for.

So our team asked for help to better support their colleagues during the specific issues of lockdown, from heightened anxiety to establishing work-life balance. We then hosted mental wellbeing workshops to tackle the specific topics front-of-mind for our staff, not just giving blanket “solutions” for workers. 

It’s not an easy time to keep your team happy, but making the right choices for them now won’t just ease immediate stresses, but demonstrate your investment in them as people for the future.

Read more: The City View: How to look after mental health in the age of remote work, with Octavius Black

Main image credit: Getty

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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