The COVID-19 crisis faced many companies and their employees with unprecedented challenges. It was necessary adapting the processes and IT-structure so that business operations could continue even though the employees were working from home. Most companies’ employees were not used to communicating with their colleagues through Microsoft Teams or Zoom. The adaption phase getting used to the new working environment took some time. Even if so far many employees have still done something from home in the evening, such as reading emails etc., the situation changed considerably. Due to the lockdown, they have been only working from home for a long period of time.
There have been advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, employees could organize their working hours more flexibly and cross-border commuters saved driving time. On the other hand, many, especially young employees had the challenge of limiting their working hours and creating a balance between private life and work. At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, predominantly the companies and their employees from the services and financial sector who, with great effort and personal commitment, managed to continue taking care of their clients.
Which lessons should be learned from now one and a half years in COVID-19 mode?
Numerous studies have found that many employees at home are unable to switch off, as there are no clear times between working hours and breaks. Furthermore, they are tired from the workload and the permanent level of stress. For example, an employee returning from a sickness leave or vacation will have to process hundreds of emails. As the barrage of emails is increasing, it is important to jointly find procedures for the company and employees increasing efficiency of workflows – both for internal communication and with the client. The tools are available. However, it will take some time to implement these and gain experience with them. By supporting employees, they will be able delivering high quality work and finding time to recover. It should also be monitored, that the tasks are allocated equally between the team members.
In times of working from home in particular, (virtual-) team activities can help motivating employees and maintaining the contact between colleagues.