Practical help for remote teams during COVID-19

As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, workplaces are having to adjust and adapt to new ways of working and a vastly different operational context.

Many traditional workplaces have been required to suddenly shift to remote work, with many employees working from home for the first time. Isolated workers are being required to quickly adapt to technology they haven’t used before, many with children home from school. Furthermore, there is heightened anxiety about the uncertain state of the world and repercussions of the pandemic response. Responsible and ethical workplaces will be prioritising employee wellbeing like never before, given the significantly elevated risks to employee mental health in the current environment.

Workplace leaders are faced with two significant challenges: how to support their employees and maintain employee engagement in this challenging context, and how to protect workplace culture in the absence of a physical workplace and face to face interaction.

Essential to this is making sure workplaces have in place effective strategies and tools for gathering employee insights and workforce intelligence. Communication is key.

Giving employees an instruction to ‘work from home’ and simply hoping for the best is likely to lead to poor outcomes. In order to effectively adapt, employers will need to deliberately engage with their teams to understand how employees are coping, what is working well, and where the challenges lie.

This process is sometimes known as measuring ‘employee engagement’ or ‘employee experience’. Sometimes it can be referred to as gathering ‘workforce intelligence’. Whatever you call it, the idea is the same – to understand what your team needs to thrive (as far as current circumstances allow).

As sociologists and researchers, we have spent years undertaking qualitative research within workplaces in order to provide leaders with targeted insights on issues impacting their workforce and their organisational culture. These insights are used by leaders to implement targeted and impactful workforce change initiatives, which are successful because they are informed by a solid evidence base.

We as an organisation have carefully considered how we can best provide practical help during this time. We have decided to combine two of our areas of expertise: remote work and research, to develop a free tool that leaders can use to understand how they can support the sudden transition to remote work as effectively as possible.

Our free ‘COVID-19 Remote Working Survey’ helps leaders understand the challenges for their team, so that they can respond and adapt in an informed, targeted and effective way. We hope you find it useful, and that it helps you support your team so that on the other side of this your organisation is well-placed to thrive.

Katherine Post is Managing Director, Business Development at Rapid Context. Katherine is a policy expert and lawyer who has worked in senior federal government roles across a broad range of areas including legal and regulatory reform, Indigenous affairs, housing and homelessness and women’s policy.

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