Dealing with Lockdown Humdrum and Diminishing Employee Productivity
As of today, the COVID-19 Lockdown is due to “end” on May 3rd, 2020. This was an extension from the previous ‘April 15th’ end date. The entire world is dealing with flattening the COVID-19 curve. Hence, come May 3rd, we are likely to see yet another extension of our nationwide lockdown.
Here are a couple things that could happen:
- Lockdown until a vaccine is found (won’t happen til the far future)
- Provisions such as intrastate movement. (But no interstate or international travel)
- Business will resume based on requisites and locality (High dense areas are likely to remain on lockdown)
- The Lockdown will indeed end on May 3rd (…AND we risk a surge of new covid-19 cases)
Point four is severely unlikely and definitely not an option. The only way the government can ensure the safety of the Indian citizens and residents is by maintaining the lockdown. Currently there are close to 20,000 confirm cases. Maharashtra has the highest number of cases accounting for almost a quarter of the total, followed by Delhi and Gujarat that have reported slightly over 2,000 cases respectively.
It is due to such strict measurements taken by the government, that a country as large and densely populated as India has managed to indeed flatten the curve. Over the last 30 days, various industries have taken a big hit to their businesses. These same businesses are eager to resume their operations.
Many companies are still and had never stopped their operations. A vast majority is conducting their businesses from home. Now we all know, working from home is no easy feat. Several people may be quick to assume that, that is due to the lack of drive to work (laziness) or the number of home distractions (namely Netflix, Prime, Insta, Facebook etc). Although this is true for a percentage of cases, the rest are dealing with something far worse.
Burning out, Depression, Cabin Fever
There are several reasons to see a dip in your staff performance. One of them is job burnout. This is the overwhelming stress that comes with taking on responsibilities at work without spending time to mentally de-stress. Several people are struggling with time management at home. Now that we are working from home, people have taken on their own hours and are working around the clock. This is an unhealthy routine. Individuals need actively work to maintain a work-life balance now that their home and office are the same.
Depression and cabin fever are other factors to beware of. People are confined within their homes, they are less exposed to sunlight (Lack of Vitamin D can make you more depressed), and there is minimal activity. This restlessness and depressive episodes can affect work levels.
High stress, depression and restlessness have a negative impact on the mindset of your employees. They are less likely to complete multiple day to day tasks and spend more time on the completion of a single task instead.
Address the Situation
It is high time we all realise that we are not getting out of this lockdown at least until the end of May, and maybe even longer. If you’re an employee reading this, this means you can no longer use the excuse of “it will be fine, the lockdown ends soon, things will be back to normal”. More importantly, things won’t be “back to normal” regardless of when the lockdown ends.
Anyway, the first thing employers need to do is identify if their employees are not performing to standards. Depending on the job position, certain employees will be able to perform even on lockdown while others are more constrained. However as it has been over a month since we’ve all entered quarantine, majority of companies have already rolled out work from home schemes to restructure responsibilities and operations. That’s a slightly fancy way of saying you delegated new tasks.
Which means, employers should be more concerned regarding the health of their employees if productivity still seems low. Taking notice of what’s happening is important and it is the first step. For big companies this means addressing these issues during senior personnel meetings. For smaller companies, this means having frequent all team meetings.
As a community, we need to have a significant shift in our mindset. If working from home is on the agenda for the next 8 weeks, we need to start making more concrete plans and strategies that will be implemented for long term and not just for 4-week periods.
So what should you do?
- Measure productivity – Use an app or any communication app to keep track of how long your employees are working
- Clearly define new KPIs – Uncharted work territory means new goals
- Host in-house webinars – Open these up to just your employees! It can be anything from industry to wellness to entertainment based webinars
- Communicate – Whatever hierarchy you follow, make sure you’re following up and following through with your tasks
- Over Communicate – Don’t settle for weekly or bi-weekly updates. Get those updates everyday through calls or applications
- Give at least one day off if not two – Give your employees a clear “order” to take at least one day of the week to unwind
Use an employee centric approach. In this time it is important to show your employee you care. Your people are concerned about getting laid off, or not getting salaries or the fact that they could potentially end up with a deadly virus. Focus and make sure your employees are doing well, in turn they will take care of your business and your customers. These individuals are much likely to perform better, stay on with the company post lockdown and start innovating.
Another aspect to this is to consider the continuation of your hiring plans. Your current employees are working from home, why not hire a couple freelancers, interns of full-timers to work from home too? This will help boost your productivity.
The only way we can keep our businesses running is by finding new ways to implement the plans we created prior to COVID-19. The pandemic has severely affected the job market with reputable colleges discontinuing their placements to MNCs pulling back their offers to hefty layoffs.
In conclusion, if we know one thing it is that companies that successfully implement an ironclad work from home strategy, are more likely to observe a smoother transition once the lockdown ends.