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7 min read

6 Ways To Stay Connected During a Crisis

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Over the past month, restrictions on our work and social lives have changed the way we are able to communicate. Whether it’s being unable to meet with clients or have a meal with extended family, we have all had to adapt our lifestyles for the greater good. 

While we’re certainly in uncharted territory, this crisis has forced all businesses to be creative with how we stay in touch. As global working environments continue to shift towards digital methods of communication, we explore how you can stay happy, healthy and connected through a lockdown and beyond.

1. Build a routine

The most difficult thing for many employees when working remotely is the loss of routine. Tsedal Neeley, professor at Harvard Business School says that during this crisis “it’s critical to maintain a routine”.  That means having a set start and end time to your working day, as you would normally in the office, getting dressed appropriately and sticking to lunch and break times. It also means, as Professor Neeley says, “carving out your space”. Decide with your household where you’ll each work and create a working environment you feel comfortable in.

You should, however, remember that there has to be a balance, As Neeley explains, we should “embrace flexibility, especially if you’re in the house with family.” There will inevitably be changes to working patterns. You should even expect requests from staff looking after children to stagger working hours. We all have to be receptive to requests like this in the current climate. Who knows, you might see changes to your business that stay on after the lockdown is over.

2. Stay up to date

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all of the information out there, but it is important to keep up to date with the latest advice in your industry and the country you’re based in.  If you’re UAE-based like us, then that means checking in on the Ministry of Health and Prevention. We keep our staff up to date with any updates that might affect our business or their work so that they don’t have to find out second-hand through the media.

There are also specific challenges in each industry and we know that the crisis is having a big impact on oil and gas. Whether it’s challenges faced by remote work or more serious budget concerns, there is advice out there for those of us in the energy sector. Organisations like A Step Change in Safety are sharing great advice on how to adapt your working practices to keep your business running and your staff safe and happy. We’re also offering support to any of our partners who need guidance at this time, you can contact us here.

3. Use video more

Managing a remote workforce is a delicate balance between allowing your employees’ space to work while maintaining a level of oversight on their activities. Emails and conference calls are a great start, but video conferencing is a great way to keep contact personal. Regular team catch-ups throughout the week give staff an opportunity to share ideas and frustrations, or even just enjoy some company from their colleagues.

The same can be applied to your client relationships too. In our industry and in the UAE in general, face to face meetings are vital to maintaining relationships. While we might not be able to meet prospective clients or long-standing customers for the time being - we’re still able to show our faces. Utilise tools, such as Zoom or VidYard to have conference calls in place of meetings. It might take a while getting used to, but after a while, it will become the new normal - trust us. Adrian Dearnell, a former Bloomberg news anchor, recently shared some great tips on succeeding at video conferencing for anyone looking for some reassurance.

4. Maintain your community spirit

It can be easy to forget the importance of workplace culture when there is a global crisis going on but community spirit is more important now than ever. You’ll probably be communicating less now, after all, you can’t just turn to each other or have a quick chat in the kitchen - so think of new ways you can keep morale up.

We’re using messaging platforms to stay up to date with each other. Three of us separately made pancakes from scratch without planning it then shared our photos on our WhatsApp group. It was a simple and fun way of socialising with each other, in the same way we would in the office.

The community spirit you build in this period could also have a big effect further down the line. A study from Mckinsey found that “improving internal collaboration through social tools could help raise the productivity of interaction by as much as 20 to 25 per cent.” By strengthening relationships while you’re working remotely, you’ll keep your workforce engaged so that collaborations can flourish and ultimately productivity increases.

5. Learn and upskill

We’re working with our staff to ensure even if there is downtime, they’re using it effectively. Are there online courses you can recommend to help staff improve their knowledge in your industry or add a new skill to their repertoire? According to a 2020 survey by software company VMWare, 70.5 percent of respondents in the UAE want their employer to improve their digital tool offering for employees. Now is the time to ask staff what tools they need and explore free trial opportunities to see what could add value for your staff and your processes.

While upskilling in work is important, we’re also encouraging our staff to take advantage of opportunities for personal development in their free time - after all, they have much more of it now. One of our colleagues, Mahesh has been learning all about finance and personal debt and investments from the team at SimplyFI following the training we recently ran in-house. We all know how bored and frustrated we can get sitting around at home, so try to share fun or interesting tools with your team to help them outside of working hours too

6. Staying physically and mentally active

With most of us cooped up in our homes, it’s natural that we’ll all be getting less exercise and stimulation, Thankfully, in our digital world, there are many options to stay fit from the comfort of your own home. And there are benefits beyond our physical health too. A 2018 study published by Psychiatric journal, The Lancet showed that people who exercised regularly had on average 43·2% fewer days of poor mental health than those who didn’t. At a time when your staff’s mental health should be at the forefront of your mind, exercise is one way to help your team feel more connected to the present moment.

Now is also the perfect opportunity to try new things. Our team are shining examples of using the internet to stay active. From online Zumba classes streaming to our living rooms, to the 30-day yoga challenge currently underway from our General Manager, Andrew, we’re making the most of confinement.

To thrive in this crisis, we all need to find a balance. We need to establish a remote work routine that maintains our unique company cultures while also being mindful of the challenges our staff face. We can only do this with a robust and consistent communication strategy that helps staff to learn, share ideas and maintain a happy work/life balance even when it’s all happening in our living rooms.

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