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How Businesses Can Support Remote Workers

As the nation begins to work-from-home in a collective effort to fight the coronavirus spread, businesses are looking at ways to effectively manage this shift. Change Management, although not a new concept, is taking on an even greater influence in company decision-making. The Change-Curve and corresponding cycle of emotions that employees will experience is a good starting point. This model outlines four key stages that an organisation will go through during a transitional phase, and the corresponding impact it can have on their people.

The Change-Curve

The Change Curve
Source: Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Stage 1 – When a deviation from the ‘norm’ is introduced, the initial reaction is denial. At this point, people are unsure of the potential impact and don’t give much thought to it.

Stage 2 – As reality sets in, negative emotions such as fear or anxiety become the driving force. This can be exacerbated if confronted with barriers or challenges associated with the change.

Stage 3 – As people stop focusing on what is lost, the change becomes more widely accepted, allowing people to focus on exploration and problem-solving. 

Stage 4 – Only once people commit to this change as a new way of working can individuals be fully satisfied. Eventually it will become the new ‘norm’ and widely accepted.

Reference: MindTools

Managing Stage 2

COVID-19 has catapulted us into this change cycle, as businesses are forced to adjust to remote working. It can present challenges to both employers and employees, especially in a time of such rapidly changing circumstances. Fear of loneliness and loss of team camaraderie become a very real concern at stage 2 of the Change-Cycle.

As a company, Merkle want to support your team to ensure you are kept safe, both physically and emotionally. We are learning together and want to share a few ways we are working to overcome feelings of isolation and managing the boundaries between home and work life:

Daily Check-Ins – At 11am and 3pm each day, the team grab a drink and jump online to pay homage to the ‘coffee-machine’ informal chats that went on in the office. These involve informal video conferences, where the topic of conversation ranges from ‘new hobbies’ to ‘favourite recipes’.

Community Forum – the entire office is looped into an online portal where we can upload and share information, thoughts and ideas. The working-from-home ‘selfie competition’ and ‘virtual game nights’ are currently trending.

Friday Dress-Up – after our first week of company-wide remote working, the Friday team meeting certainly went down as one to remember!

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Training & Development

In these early days, a lot of the concerns are around infrastructure and the logistics of getting set up from home. However, as we start to settle into a routine, engaging remote workers and ensuring they are reaching their full potential becomes critical. From a Change-Cycle perspective, this is about minimising the negative impact of the change and then helping people adapt and move to stage 3 more quickly.

Training can be a great way to help alleviate the worries associated with homeworking at this time:

  • Helping shift the focus of uncertainty
  • Building a sense of community
  • Establishing structure to the day
  • Providing a sense of achievement
  • Ensuring managers and their teams stay visible and collaborate

At Merkle, we have experience in delivering training remotely, and have developed best practice guidelines for our trainers to ensure the optimal outcome for participants. During a period where perhaps marketing teams are feeling a bit lost, we want to help. As such, we have decided to offer our remote training sessions at a reduced cost allowing you to use our training as a vehicle to accelerate change acceptance, motivate your employees and provide them with a renewed sense of purpose and focus.

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The coronavirus pandemic is expected to fundamentally change the way many organisations operate for the foreseeable future. It’s a chance for businesses to re-examine the relationship they have with their staff, and to elevate their culture to be mutually beneficial. Use this time as an opportunity to instil core values, investing in your employees both now and in the future.

Get in touch with us, if you’d like to chat through opportunities for remote digital training in the coming months.