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Coronavirus Demands a Healthier Workplace Culture. Here Are 5 Standards That Can Help Build One.

The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how individual health can impact an entire community. In response, we’re building better workplaces for our physical and mental health — and these cultural changes should become permanent.

 Put Physical and Mental Health First, Always

 For the first time, we are experiencing the emotional challenges of isolation on a global scale, and have started conversations about how to cope. More open communication and support regarding health is a positive step that must continue as we transition to our new normal.

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The continued prioritization of health can take many forms, including regular check-ins with your team, creating a safe environment where people feel comfortable reaching out about their mental health struggles, and encouraging sick days and personal days (yes, even when working from home). By examining and investing (or reinvesting) in key areas of your operation, you can build better health practices that become permanent parts of your organization’s culture.

Embrace remote work

Remote work and improved health practices go hand in hand in today’s workplace. As restrictions ease, your business should seriously consider making a return to the office optional. If your business transitioned to remote work during the pandemic, then you know it’s possible, even if you were forced to address certain challenges.

Start by evaluating whether your workforce (or a portion of it) can maintain productivity in a remote setting. Then consider allowing employees to work certain hours or days from home. The benefit is that working remotely creates greater flexibility, which can help employees who have children, other dependents, physical or mental health issues, or just a long commute.

Remote work can be challenging. But if you provide your team with the resources they need to work from home successfully, going remote — or at least offering the flexibility to do so — will move your company forward, increase productivity and morale, and make your team more agile in unforeseen circumstances. And remember — it is entirely possible to foster a great culture, even with a totally remote team.

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Enhance transparency

Rapid change demands clear communication and transparency in the workplace. By being completely honest with your team about the struggles your leadership team is facing, you can build trust and confidence that employees will never be blindsided by an unexpected major change. This level of communication improves morale, motivation, and productivity.

Encourage transparency from your employees as well, and ask them to be straightforward in discussing their needs. How can your company support them when they are struggling? What do they need to work more effectively at home? How are they feeling about the way leadership is handling things?

Prioritize company culture

 After quickly transitioning to remote work, many businesses prioritized connections by finding new ways to focus on company culture. The importance of connections and culture needs to remain when employees gather in person again.

The virtual happy hours everyone attended on Zoom? Do them in person. The weekly check-ins to see how each member of the team is feeling about their workload? Do them in person. Interestingly, companies are creating connections and cultivating culture even better in quarantine. These aspects of culture are easy to take for granted in person, while it’s necessary to actively nurture it online.

Encourage adaptability

When the pandemic hit, businesses had to adapt quickly — whether they liked the change or not. Decisions that would normally take multiple meetings were made in an instant and widespread uncertainty meant that everyone, from leadership to interns, had to change priorities and resources at a moment’s notice.

Companies that thrive during the pandemic are the ones that have quickly managed to accept the new normal and adapt accordingly. But the real breakouts following the pandemic will be the businesses that continue to foster a culture of health and wellness within their ranks even after regular business operations resume.

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