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5 Tips to Stay Connected While Practicing Social Distancing During Coronavirus (COVID-19)

March 12, 2020 / Employee Engagement

Written By: Jordan Dunne

Learn how to keep employees engaged and help them maintain social connections while working remotely.

The new coronavirus, COVID-19, is a contagious disease that can be spread just like the common cold or the flu. To prevent illness, the CDC is recommending maintaining distance from others if COVID-19 is spreading in your community or if you are feeling ill. Whether your organization regularly supports remote work or you’re allowing employees to work from home due to concerns over COVID-19, we have some tips to keep your employees healthy, productive and in good spirits.

Leverage technology to create human connections. Watch the webinar replay with New York Times best-selling author, Dan Schawbel.

Maintain Normal Work Hours

Remind your employees that whether they are working remotely or coming into the office, working hours have not changed. For employees who are working from home, gently remind them to stick to a normal morning routine and to “get ready” for work. Set an alarm, eat a balanced breakfast, do a home workout, shower, and change into work-appropriate clothing to make each day feel more like a day in the office rather than a day spent on the couch answering emails.

Work “Face-To-Face” in Virtual Meetings

Remember what we said about “getting ready” for work? When your employees know that they will be meeting with their colleagues via video, they’ll be more motivated to maintain that daily routine before logging on for work. This also helps foster the social bonds between coworkers. Why is this so important? A Gallup poll revealed that having a friend at work makes you seven times as likely to produce better work, deliver a better customer experience and are prone to fewer on-the-job injuries.[1]

Utilize Your Wellbeing Platform

An employee health and wellbeing program is a great way to educate and communicate with employees on how they can stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is also a great way to create opportunities for social networking. Team-based corporate challenges improve social connections and create supportive, collaborative and fun cultures. Try launching a company-wide step challenge or healthy habit challenge—they can be done anywhere!

Recommend That Employees Socialize Outside of Work

Research shows that 91 percent of employees who don’t socialize at work are disengaged.[2] Employees can support each other in times of high stress by setting aside time for a virtual lunch together to discuss topics that are not centered around work. Starting a team chat where employees can send motivational quotes or fun gifs to each other might help keep morale high. Other ideas include: a virtual book club, discussing favorite TV series, or a craft group.

Encourage Work-Life Balance

When working from home, it can feel like you’re expected to be fully available at all hours. Reminding employees to take a lunch break and sign off at the end of the workday will help employees reduce their overall stress levels and increase engagement.

Help your employees avoid burnout with these tips.

A great company culture depends on employee engagement and, more importantly, employee health. Supporting your workforce during times of stress by empowering employees, motivating them to prioritize personal wellbeing, and encouraging them to find work-life balance will help ease anxiety and maintain business performance. Technology can be isolating, but with the right strategy in place, you can keep your workforce feeling secure and motivated.

[1] Gallup. Your Friend and Your Social Wellbeing. https://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/127043/friends-social-wellbeing.aspx

[2] Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements. Tom Rath. Jim Harter. Gallup, Inc. 2010.

About The Author

Jordan Dunne is on the marketing team at Virgin Pulse, focusing on social strategy and health and wellbeing content. Outside of work, you can find her at the gym, hosting trivia, taking photos of food, or snuggling up on the couch with her dogs.

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