Blue Monday + Lockdown 3.0 + New Year + cold, dark days = zero employee morale + plummeting productivity, or does it? How can you boost your remote workers’ enthusiasm, help them beat Blue Monday and banish lockdown gloom, to make 2021 a happier and more productive new year? Here, we look at some useful tech tools and tips to help you expel your employees’ blues.
We all know that 2020 was a year like no other, and, truth be told, 2021 has also not got off to a great start, with grim news and yet another national lockdown declared in the first working week. Now, with Blue Monday, on 18 January, a date deemed to be the most depressing day each year, it may feel as if the misery is just piling on. So, the time really is ripe to boost employee morale with all the tools available. After all, happy employees make more productive workers, and no one wants demotivated people and skyrocketing sick leave.
The good news is that, although many of us may be ‘confined to barracks’, there is plenty we can do to make work a more uplifting experience and technology can play a major part. Even though times are undeniably tough, a touch of ingenuity and IT assistance can certainly go a long way to help, so here’s a handful of suggestions how.
1. Unify your team
If the pandemic, subsequent social distancing and recurrent lockdowns have taught us anything about human nature, it must be how important interaction with others is to us as a species. Humankind was never meant to live in isolation, and to be at our best, we need each other. Indeed, the old adage ‘United we stand, divided we fall’, has never been truer. It is therefore vital for morale that you do all you can to ensure that workers are able to stay connected and collaborate as closely as possible. This is where technology is invaluable, as by providing a reliable unified communications platform for your remote workers to use, you can boost employee wellbeing and business efficiency in one go. In this way, you can not only help your people to closely connect and banish any feelings of isolation homeworking can create, but also turbocharge productivity. In fact, encouraging your teams to make full use of this technology, such as having informal chats via group messaging and video calls, can lift morale and build a much stronger and supportive working from home team culture.
2. Try feelgood features
While messaging and video chats can be a valuable way to dispel lockdown isolation blues, the tech tools in your feelgood arsenal certainly don’t end there. You may want to make the most of some Microsoft Teams and Outlook new features, which could put a real zip in the step of your remote workers, at this otherwise gloomy time. This includes a variety of tools, in Microsoft Teams, to boost morale and productivity, provided in partnership with Headspace, a global leader in mindfulness and meditation. Another innovation which could raise a smile and add some extra enthusiasm to battle-fatigued remote workers this Blue Monday, is the new Together Mode. This uses artificial intelligence (AI) segmentation technology to digitally place participants in a shared background, to provide a more natural ‘together’ feel for meetings, than the usual divided box experience. Although this may be a poor second best to a chat in the coffee shop with colleagues, it does offer a nod towards a more normal setting, for those feeling disconnected from others.
3. Don’t lag behind
As none of us need more stresses and strains in this challenging situation, don’t let outdated technology add to the difficulties your remote workforce is coping with. Recent research shows that as many as a third of all UK workers lose motivation when they have to wait for slow technology to respond. In fact, findings suggest that morale and productivity are significantly affected by out of date technology, so if you want to get the best from your employees and keep your business firing on all cylinders, it is vital to ensure your equipment stays up to date. This is especially important, at this challenging time, where your business telephone system is concerned, as the morale of your remote workers will certainly be at stake if they are not equipped with a system that copes well with homeworking. Dealing with irate customers who receive poor phone service is guaranteed to give anyone a Blue Monday! Although businesses may be cutting back in some areas at this difficult time, updating technology is being seen as a priority by many, as according to the CIO Pandemic Business Impact Survey, 2020, conducted by IDG, 59% of respondents agreed that the pandemic was accelerating their digital transformation efforts. Perhaps one of the easiest and most effective ways of ensuring that you keep up to date with all upgrades and improvements available for your current technology, and never lag behind, is to employ a fully managed cloud service, where all updates are automatic.
4. Be flexible
With the cold, dark winter days adding to the despondency felt by many, there is also something very simple that you can do to lift the mood of your workers – be flexible with when they work. By allowing employees to start later and finish later, it can enable people to take their daily lockdown exercise outdoors, during daylight hours, before work. This could help beat Blue Monday in more ways than one, as regular exercise is thought to help lift mood, and the extra sunlight gained (and vitamin D this can provide) may even fend off depressive feelings caused by seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In fact, so important is gaining enough light during the dark winter months, that one business leader – Marissa Jennings, Managing Partner of Who Wot Why – reports that her company is actually sending out daylight desk lamps to workers, to help ward off SAD. However, you may not need to go that far, as by just being flexible about when employees work, you can also help boost the wellbeing of your remote working parents. These beleaguered employees will be doing their best to juggle their children’s home schooling with work during lockdown, and just a little flexibility can go a long way to boost their morale and productivity. Indeed, this will not only support your remote workers’ wellbeing, but is likely to encourage higher levels of loyalty and motivation among your workforce.
5. Continue the fun
Just because Christmas is over, it does not mean we have to wave goodbye to all the fun it brings as well. If ever we needed to find some joy in our lives, it is now! Remember the happiness spread by virtual festive get togethers, and even socially distanced Christmas jumper days? So, why not plan a few small fun events to take the edge off the lockdown gloom? Even a virtual game of bingo at the end of the week might not go amiss. Although dress down Fridays may not have much impact when every day can be a pyjama day, working from home, and no one knows if you’re taking a Zoom call in your pants, perhaps a themed fancy dress Friday, or even a ‘wear something cheerful day’ for Blue Monday, might work wonders for lifting spirits. For extra motivation, you could even make it a sponsored charity event, to spread the joy further. Far from undermining the hard work your people put in, organising some simple virtual team building exercises, such as a casual quiz, could also easily boost morale and output in one fell swoop.
So, to keep your team on top form, with all the tech tools they need to excel in lockdown and beyond, contact Prodec Network’s remote work experts now.