Know how to treat employees and workers during these difficult times as many people work alone.
Currently there is a mixture of individuals both working from home and still doing their daily commute to a physical place of work as they cannot do it remotely. In both circumstances having to work in isolation can be very new and unusual; some workers may even find it difficult to work alone without the regular group contact of being on a work site or office.
Employers hold the responsibility to ensure all employees currently working in some form of isolation are managing okay, even if many are some-what used to working alone, it’s nothing new for workers to feel unable to talk about how they are feeling.
The reason engineers is in this list is because many engineering jobs already expect a person to work alone as the job may not require additional people. That doesn’t make the situation any easier just because someone is used to being alone.
In fact the British Red Cross held a survey in 2018 and found that 53% of the people they asked who worked in the engineering sector felt lonely during their job at some point and that 31% of those surveyed said they didn’t have close colleagues they could confide in.
Working alone can be especially difficult if you’re unfamiliar with the location or the people in charge of a site, the usual introductions to locations of facilities or even asking a friend to pop the kettle on doesn’t exist when you’re a lone worker and this could definitely impact a workers ability to work effectively and happy.
Checking in daily with lone engineers is one step to ensuring their safety and mental well-being. As they don’t have anyone around to ensure they don’t fall, slip or drop something too heavy, having that relationship so that they tell you if something has gone wrong or if they just want a chat will ensure your engineers stay safe and continue to build their relationship with the business.
If your engineers now find themselves abiding by the new 2 metre distance rule at work or even travelling by themselves for deliveries, pick-ups or one-man installation jobs, the new work routine could be difficult for those not used to it.
The casual everyday banter is now either silence or the just the radio. If you feel some engineers might be having issues working alone, helping them to understand the current situation and why it’s necessary at this moment that they work in isolation, might help them put things into perspective.
You might have a group of engineers currently working on a building site that is essential for future economy projects however the team behind the admin of this project could now be working from home – alone.
For some businesses it might not be as easy for everyone to be on a group video chat all day to create what would be a normal working atmosphere and so instantly, that feeling of having people work around you no longer exists.
If you think one of your employees is struggling to adapt to the ‘new normal’ advising them to take regular breaks, go out for a walk or even catch up on other tasks or chores around the house that they would normally have to complete after a normal day at the office, might help to reset their motivation and head space.
Interestingly, research by Buffer found that from a study of 1,900 remote workers, the majority of them recommended working remotely and that loneliness came low on their list of ‘biggest struggles’.
How does this differ from those who spend most of their working week in an office with several other people? Now at home, with potentially the rest of their family whose children may not be able to understand why their parent isn’t ‘available to play’, finding time to concentrate and complete tasks may also have a damper on the overall ability to work remotely.
Similar to lone engineers, employers should make the time to check in on their staff, either daily, every other day or at some point during the week, even if it’s for a quick chat or video conference call. Building that relationship with workers will only improve their connection with the business and other employees.
This idea should be a positive act, especially as 2 in 10 people don’t feel they have a ‘best friend’ at work and so having someone even in times of a pandemic to reach out and ask how they are doing at home is a great way to build that trust and friendship between employer and employee.
It will even help to strengthen relationships when lockdown restrictions are lifted and people can begin to go back to work as they had before, your staff will be thankful for the time and effort you and everyone put in to ensure the mental wellbeing of the business.
Trying to discover a new work routine for both engineers and office workers isn’t going to be easy, it’s not something all businesses can plan for and so the best way to get through working in isolation is regular contact and also making your employees feel like they’re still doing a good job even in these trying times.