Article by Jamie Mackenzie, Director at Sodexo Engage
The way we work has changed massively over the last few weeks, with government lockdown rules meaning that home has become the new office for most of us.
But the leap from being surrounded by colleagues to working alone can be a big adjustment. Many employees enjoy a social life with their workmates, so it can be harder to stay positive when they can’t see them, chat to them or ask for their advice as readily. Add stress and anxiety to the mix and it can seem like an uphill battle trying to keep team morale high.
However, maintaining strong teams through this time is essential. The good news is that technology means there are lots of new and creative ways to build a sense of community and keep your team connected, no matter how far apart everyone may be.
Workplace yoga is growing in popularity, as more employers see the benefits of getting their staff moving rather than sitting at a desk all day. When you’re busy, it can be easy to spend hours stuck in the same spot without realising it, but research has shown that sitting still all day increases your risk for all sorts of health problems.
And with employees now cooped up at home all week, they’ll be moving even less without their daily commute or after-work gym sessions to get their blood pumping. Making sure staff are active and stretching will not only help keep their physical wellbeing tip-top, but can also be a great way to de-stress and avoid burnout.
If you can’t get to the pub, bring the pub to you. Many of us like to unwind together with a drink at the end of the working week, and many staff will really be missing their Friday afternoon socialising.
Getting everyone together on a video call and trying out a variety of wines could be just the tonic your team needs – no pun intended! Not only does it help fill that void when we can’t just nip to the pub, but coming together to focus on something other than work can also be a real morale-booster and give people something to look forward to.
Many people find getting stuck into a good book helps them switch off, so a non-compulsory book club can be another great way to stop workers from going stir-crazy and give them a much-needed distraction.
It can also be useful in bringing people together who don’t necessarily work with each other on a daily basis. What’s more, a great book can get those intellectual juices flowing, which can be a bonus for work too.
Regular coffee breaks
Informal chats are another vital part of employee bonding, and thanks to technology, this doesn’t need to stop just because we’re not in the same room. Managers should encourage staff to talk about topics other than work to help lessen stress and loneliness. It’s also a good chance for team members to spot if someone is feeling down or struggling.
As we get to grips with this new normal, it’s more important than ever to keep staff motivated and working towards something. Giving staff fun and creative ways to switch off outside of work is vitally important to making sure they’re switched on inside of work. After all, staff with a good work-life balance and a supportive boss will be less stressed, more productive and more willing to go that extra mile.
Not everything will work for everyone so it’s worth having a range of activities. But, in a nutshell, putting some fun into working from home is key to keeping spirits high as we work our way through this time.
About the author
Jamie has been with Sodexo since 2013 and is responsible for the company strategy, proposition development, brand management and communications. He brings over 13 years of business and consumer marketing experience in senior roles within blue chip organisations. Jamie is also an advocate for diversity and inclusion at work and has spoken frequently about the ways to create a positive workplace culture.
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