The COVID-19 pandemic has changed work as we know it – possibly for the long haul. Many are working from home or onsite while socially distanced. Keeping morale and production high when contact must remain low will be an ongoing struggle, but the right strategies can help businesses succeed in tough times.

Remote Work Is Still Needed

Although being vigilant against the coronavirus can be challenging, the consequences of an outbreak would be far worse: Employees would have to miss work, possibly for weeks, due to illness or quarantine, morale would drop as people see their coworkers get sick, and the business might have to close temporarily.

The coronavirus has not disappeared, so safety must be a priority. Employers should follow guidelines from the CDC, OSHA, state and local governments and industry organizations. Whenever possible, remote work arrangements should continue to be used.

Develop New Processes for Work

When people switched to remote work, practically overnight, in response to the pandemic, some companies found that there were bound to be some snags. Any major change will require a period of adjustment, and productivity may suffer during this time.

However, this doesn’t mean that change is always bad. According to Streetsblog USA, a Morning Consult study found that three in four workers who have been working remotely during the pandemic would like to continue doing so at least one to two days a week, and about one-third of workers would like to make working from home every day a permanent arrangement.

And employers who worry that workers are slacking off at home may be pleasantly surprised. According to the BBC, a study conducted by Bloom found that workers were 13 percent more productive when they worked from home. Because remote workers eliminated commutes and had shorter breaks and fewer sick days, they were able to work more.

Remote work may have been forced upon us, but we can make it work for us.

  • Some workers are well-suited to working from home, while others struggle with it. If you’re using a mix of remote work and office work, see what the individuals on your team prefer.
  • Consider alternating schedules in which people work some days in the office and the rest of the week at home.
  • Make sure you’re using solid remote work programs. If the tech tools you adopted hastily during the beginning of the pandemic aren’t cutting it, find better programs now.

Find New Ways to Socialize and Engage

According to the American Psychological Association, researchers have found that a lack of social connection is just as bad for a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or having an alcohol use disorder. Employees might not be able to chat around the watercooler or get together after work, but this doesn’t mean that socialization should be abandoned.

Employee engagement is also essential for the health of the business. According to Forbes, a Gallup study found that engaged teams are 21 percent more profitable and 17 percent more productive, and they have 10 percent higher customer ratings.

Employees who work from home may be out of sight, but they shouldn’t be out of mind. Here are some of the strategies we use at Covenir to achieve high levels of success with remote employees:

  • Use Microsoft Teams and Zoom for regular 1×1 video calls with the staff
  • Maintain a dedicated monthly 1×1 with each employee and their supervisor to allow for a dedicated and focused monthly call to help maintain engagement and performance
  • Have entire team Zoom meetings periodically to check-in and see familiar faces
  • Maintain upper-level management touchpoints with the frontline staff to maintain a connection

If your new remote reality is making it difficult to cover key functions, such as customer service, premium services, FNOL and claims, underwriting, policy advising/sales or managing outgoing or incoming mail, it may be time to consider an insurance outsourcing option. Covenir is the best in the business. Check out our capabilities here.