Everyone has been affected by COVID-19 with regards to their work situation. It has meant months of being furloughed for many people, but for others, it has meant their homes have now become their daily working environment.
We no longer meet in the office where coffee and biscuits are readily available. Now it’s sitting in your workspace at home (perhaps with pyjama bottoms on!) over a virtual meeting; A home where we are reliant on our internet connections not failing us or making sure our face isn’t suddenly on kitten mode! (Texas lawyer Rod Ponton).
This new work style has been embraced by many with less time commuting and more time being flexible with homelife.
According to finder.com, almost 60% of the UK’s adult population worked from home during the pandemic, with 26% planning to continue working from home once restrictions are lifted.
However, this has also led to an increase in loneliness and depression, with various factors being contributors; looking after children, hostile relationships, lack of routine and a blurred line between work hours and home time being just a few.
One of the biggest challenges for employers is ensuring a professional attitude is maintained at all times during their employees’ contracted hours. This includes prohibiting employees from drinking and behaving inappropriately during calls and meetings, something difficult to enforce when an employee is not physically in the office.
So, how do you deal with drinking, dirty language and disappointing conduct during working hours while employees work from home?
According to Personnel Today
‘Nine in 10 home workers are drinking alcohol on the job,’
With a surge in daytime drinking, how can we prevent our remote employees from drinking on the job or behaving badly on virtual calls?
What processes can you put in place to ensure an employee is acting correctly and making sure no one is suffering from physical or mental health issues?
- Alcohol policy
Having a policy in place will set the foundation of what is expected from your employees during working hours and what is not appropriate, including disciplinary actions if necessary. If you have a policy in place, make sure it is up-to-date to include the new working environments of your staff. Make sure all employees receive a copy and understand the consequences if they break the code of conduct.
- Be Supportive
It’s been an unprecedented time for everyone, and every individual has their own issues and challenges at home. Some of these issues can compound any drinking problems that may have already existed. As an employer, it is difficult to assess whether an employee has a drinking problem, especially while working from home. There could be some signs; lateness to a meeting or errors in work that seems unusual. It is important to communicate what support is available, whether a person (or department) wishes to discuss anything related to addictions or other mental health topics.
Make sure all employees are kept up-to-date with any new developments within the company regularly, including any schedules for office re-openings. Feeling like they are still part of the team is very important when many will be feeling isolated and alone.
- Open Door Policy
Maintain your availability, despite it being remote. Employees may even feel more comfortable speaking with you from the complete privacy of their own homes. Offer them a listening ear and flexibility in their working patterns as and when possible. Agree to regular check-ins and refer them to get professional help and support if they have more complex needs.
Having processes in place and communicating with staff is key to ensuring productivity is maintained throughout this period when many are working from home. However, offering each person the option to have a one-to-one with you or a designated team leader will ensure any issues are dealt with sooner rather than later.
Looking out for any signs of inappropriate behaviour and discussing these with your employees will need to be handled with care. Offering a support line can be the difference between getting the issues resolved quickly and with your support or becoming a disciplinary situation.
SFB Consulting is always on hand to help you, and you’re your employees. Call us today on 01279 874676 for a chat to find out about our flexible support options.