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4 ways to care for your remote and furloughed team’s wellbeing

July 8, 2020

If making your business pandemic-proof wasn’t in your business training, well, you can join the club. Since coronavirus hit, teams have been learning together how to keep a business going - and keeping everyone’s overall wellbeing in check at the same time. 

Managing your team remotely during lockdown isn’t easy. You might feel that company culture and wellbeing are low on your list of priorities, but the truth is that a well and happy team is a more productive one. The same goes for your furloughed workers - if they spend their time at home taking care of their mental and physical health, they’ll be in a much better position to contribute their best work once they’re back in the game. Here are four key ways you can help your remote and/or furloughed team’s wellbeing from afar, regardless of your budget: 

1. Keep everyone connected and foster community 

Although furloughed workers can’t work during this time, you’re still allowed to talk! For remote workers too, setting aside time to talk not about work, but about how they’re doing can make your team feel much more supported overall. Setting up regular check-ins where your people can talk about how they’re doing, what they’re doing with their free time if furloughed, and any worries on their mind will make them feel cared for and still part of a community. These chats can be weekly, fortnightly or monthly, and either one-on-one with managers or within teams. A regular slot to bring the team together can offer some consistency and reassurance in these tough times. 

A company or team Whatsapp group specifically for giving and receiving advice on remote life is a fun way to foster your sense of community. Sharing pictures of crafting achievements, gardening results or funny moments with their kids are all great ways to make everyone feel connected from afar.

2. Encourage personal and professional development 

Have you talked to people about their goals during this time? Are there any skills they want to learn, but have been putting off? When you’re talking to your team, encouraging them to explore new (or old) hobbies can give them the push to let themselves have fun. They could join in on the latest baking trend, get gardening, crafting, D.I.Y.-ing - you get the picture. If they feel like it, taking an online course in a work-related skill can help them feel that they’re still progressing in their career. 

Volunteering can also have a huge impact on people’s wellbeing - it’s been shown to boost mood, lower stress levels and give people a sense of purpose. Directing them to the National Care Force is an easy way to let them hear about different volunteering opportunities in their area - and 20,000 people have already signed up since lockdown. What they do all depends on where each person is at emotionally and what other commitments they have, but helping them work out how to spend their time in an enriching way will go a long way to helping them stay motivated and well.

If you don’t have one in place already, this is a great time to provide a Learning & Development budget that your team can use to advance their skills in areas that matter to them and align with their development plans. 

3. Send your team a Digital Care Package 

Each member of your team will have their own way of looking after themselves - what’s comforting to one person is another’s worst nightmare (90 minute meditation, anyone?). Equipping everyone with a varied choice of resources is the best way to make sure every person finds what they need. If you already have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), both remote and furloughed staff can still use this. Most EAP’s have counselling services and advice on family and financial problems, so reminding your team to take advantage of it can come in handy. 

At Ben, we’ve created a Digital Care Package, packed with free services and offers, to encourage your team’s wellbeing during this time. There’s something for everyone, so if a few people are yoga-enthusiasts, they can make use of free access to thousands of video classes on Glo.com. Or if sweating it out in a HIIT workout is how they stay feeling their best, they can go for online classes with Nike; and if they need some Headspace we have that too. Whether they want to get fit, focus on sleeping better, talk to a therapist or access private healthcare, this is a one-stop shop to help your team stay healthy and happy at home. Have a peek at what this looks like and get in touch if you’d like to set it up for your team. 

4. Provide a personal work from home wellbeing budget

As the office has gone, so have all the benefits that came along with it; coffee, breakfasts, Friday drinks and office yoga classes are just a few of the memories stuck in pre-covid world. And with more companies giving up or reducing the size of their offices, remote life is here to stay (at least for a while). Now, you can see the reduction in office expenses as a cost saving and that’s that. But, leading companies recognize how important it is to create the best work environment for teams, even if they’re stuck at home. 

The important thing is that people can choose what works best for them, because wellbeing is a very personal thing. For inspiration, just look at ‘remote-first’ companies such as Gitlab or Hotjar and how they have adapted their processes by providing personal budgets to make work from home actually work. Hotjar goes as far as providing 6 different personal budgets for different purposes: Home Office, Holiday, Personal Development, Working Space, and Wellbeing. 

It goes without saying, but by looking after your team now, your business will reap the rewards now and further down the line. In our next post we’ll be looking at repurposing your office budget in more detail - sign up to get it straight to your inbox. 

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