The global lockdown forced upon us by COVID-19 is making people anxious and uncertain. They’re unsure about when the pandemic will end and what impact it will have on the economy and, most importantly, their career and their future.
No one knows for sure how the coming weeks and years will pan out; so it’s best to prepare ourselves for whatever googly life throws us. However much the lockdown has constrained us, it has also given us the time and opportunity to take stock and make the best of what might be in store for us.
In life, there are times when we feel lost, trapped, or out of options. But the fact is there are always options. We just need to know how to choose the option that plays to our strengths.
So how can you, as employers, enable your people to use this time judiciously and make the most of this opportunity? What options do they have and which one should they choose?
Most adults I know are reacting to the current situation in one of three ways.
The first lot is treating the lockdown like a mini-war, and going about working from home (WFH) with the dedication of a Ninja warrior. They are concerned about their future for sure but have decided to bury their worries under an avalanche of work.
They sit down at their home desks, bathed and ready, at the same time that they would typically start work in the office, and are immersed in video calls, presentations and spreadsheets all day long.
They eat while they work and emerge from the home office only at night, glassy-eyed from too much staring at the screen, and collapse into bed; only to rise and do the same thing again the next day.
There is another category of employees who work diligently on whatever work their bosses assign them. But since they don’t have as much to do as the first group, they have more time on their hands. Indeed, they also have more time to feel anxious and worry about their future.
The third group comprises people who work in sectors that are not WFH-friendly, such as retail and hospitality. So they don’t really have anything to do but conduct video-chats with friends and family and catch up on TV shows and movies they missed out on earlier.
And let us not forget all of them are busy with household chores as well.
Online learning for personal growth
As employers, you need to help all your people—young and old, senior and junior—find a meaningful middle path. While I am sure you are doing your best to communicate with your employees and keep them motivated, may I suggest including online learning for their personal growth as one of the ways to help them make the best of this lockdown and crisis.
The employees who are driving themselves to work harder and longer than they ever have before, and who are probably worried about their jobs in the post-pandemic world, need to be reassured that their hard work is both appreciated and valued. And it’s all right if they weave small breaks into their WFH routine.
Since these employees are loath to cut into their work time, I’d recommend sending them links to short but interesting articles and webinars associated with their work that they can enjoy and learn from without feeling guilty.
This will have a three-fold effect. One, your employees will understand that you care about their well-being. Two, they will learn something new to use in their work. Three, they will get a much-needed break from their usual routine and return to work rejuvenated and energized by their new learnings.
For the second and third lot of employees who have time on their hands, I recommend candid conversations about using WFH to prepare for an uncertain future and a clear push to take up online learning that strengthen their technical and behavioral skills.
I am sure people understand that the post-COVID world is going to be tough. You can help them appreciate that the best way to prepare for it is by improving their skills and functional expertise.
Remote working is likely to become part and parcel of our lives going forward. So it’s vital you equip your employees with digital collaboration tools and expose them to digital resources like webinars and e-learning courses that help them maintain their emotional well-being, maintain productivity, and invest in personal growth.
For those who’ve only known a booming economy, getting upskilled is not easy. But it will have its fair share of rewards.
However dismal things look right now, there is always an opportunity to prepare for whatever the future brings.
You always have more options than you think.