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6 Ways to Manage Workplace Stress During COVID-19 Pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caught everyone off guard—from small and medium-sized enterprises and startups to business owners and employees. As companies began to resume operations in the wake of the global health crisis, their entire workforce is reintegrated and employees are gradually returning to the office with safety measures in place. Most employees are going back after working from home, while some are coming from a much needed furlough.

In any case, these varying work experiences have the potential for stirring up tension and anxiety. Reentering the workplace after a global pandemic such as the coronavirus is a first for all of us. But there are ways on how you can manage your stress and boost your productivity, and such measures can also help you build mental resilience and adjust to the new normal with less anxiety.

6 Ways to Manage Workplace Stress During COVID-19 Pandemic - Blog - ARCH Offices

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List Down Priorities for the Day

As you go back to work, prioritization will be crucial than ever. Start off your day by listing down your to-dos according to their level of importance. But with nonstop emails from your superior and ad hoc tasks coming up every once in a while, deciding what deserves your full attention can become overwhelming. Nonetheless, the benefits of mastering prioritization can change your life. Knowing which tasks to focus on can reduce stress, improve time management and productivity, and even help you strike a healthy work-life balance as you create better boundaries during your workday. A study by researchers at Florida State University found that being committed to a specific goal makes it easier to focus your brain solely on the task at hand. Once you know how to prioritize both your time and tasks, you realize that much of the work that seemed urgent at first does not really need your attention—at least not right away.

Practice Soothing Activities During Commute

Making your way to the office can either be an opportunity to find momentary solitude or a source of stress. Before heading to work, prepare a comforting playlist. When you are taking public transportation, catch up on your favorite book or watch Netflix on your phone. If you are walking to work, take a moment to look around and appreciate the sights. A study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that adding moments of leisure to your day can reduce both your brain’s and body’s response to stress, thus decreasing heart rate as well as improving your mood and overall well-being.

Share Key Takeaways

Every one of us has definitely learned a thing or two in the last five months. Whether it is finding out about our most productive time of the day or learning about new organization techniques, these key takeaways might just be as helpful to your colleagues as well. You can incorporate these lessons that you have uncovered during the lockdown to accommodate changing workplace needs and improve efficiency. Apart from that, these exchanges of information can lead to increased performance and improved decision-making.

Reintroduce Team Building Activities

You may have tried virtual team building activities with your remote team to boost morale and chill out after a long day of work. It could have been in the form of thrilling games, happy hour, or simply just a fun chitchat to cultivate a sense of community despite the distance and situation. These team building activities can help combat loneliness and isolation, especially in the case of remote workers. While a skeletal workforce is being implemented in most companies nowadays, you can suggest having contactless in-person activities to get everyone back in sync and regain a sense of belonging.

Be Open About Your Well-being Goals

The coronavirus pandemic has drastically affected our physical and mental well-being, thus forcing us to acknowledge that we must also prioritize our self to unlock our full potential. While most of us are returning to the workplace, some might still be going through some significant physical and emotional impacts of the unfortunate situation. Carving out time for a focus group discussion or one-on-one with your superior or colleague to lay down your well-being goals is essential in fostering accountability and encouragement.

Put Away Devices Before You Sleep

Poor sleeping habits lead to higher levels of anxiety. Checking your phone or laptop and browsing through social media for news updates can trigger fears especially in times of crisis, resulting in lack of sleep. Not only can it stimulate our brain and make it hard to wind down, the light from the screen can also suppress the natural production of melatonin, a hormone that the body makes to help us sleep. Moreover, a study by the European Sleep Research Society found that sleep impacts our ability to pick up on other people’s emotions. By putting away your devices hours before going to bed, you can sleep better and be your most compassionate self.

6 Ways to Manage Workplace Stress During COVID-19 Pandemic - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Andrew Neel from Pexels

Totally eliminating stress from our lives is impossible, but we can learn to manage it. We may be dealing with stressors we have never even experienced before as we return to work. But when we discover the root cause of our stress, how we respond to it, and what helps us recharge, we can be in a position to prevent any imminent issues that may affect our productivity.

Return-to-Work Guide for Employees During COVID-19

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Months after the world was struck by the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the coronavirus still poses major health, social, and economic risks. Businesses around the world are slowly getting back up on their feet amidst the unfavorable prevailing situation. Most companies have asked their employees to continue working from home, especially those who are comfortable and do not have any issues with collaboration and productivity.

As cities have begun to lift lockdown restrictions in the last few weeks, companies find it very essential to impose effective safety and health precautions before they allow their teams to return to the workplace. For employees, leaving the comfort of their home is a tough choice while the virus is still out there.

While businesses are taking precautionary measures to protect your health and well-being, you have to make sure you are doing your part by adhering to the policies and strategies in place. Look out for yourself and your loved ones by making a few changes to your office routine to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Face Mask - Safety Tips for Returning Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

Before You Head Out

We have to admit that our usual outfit of the day or #ootd will no longer be the same. Before you leave home, check your local government and health authorities’ official website for possible travel restrictions that are aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 among cities. Be sure to check your temperature twice a day and be on the lookout for respiratory symptoms. If you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible and isolate yourself for two weeks.

  • Leave jewelry and other nonessential accessories at home.
  • If you have long hair, keep it pulled back and securely fastened.
  • Instead of contact lenses, consider wearing glasses to avoid touching your face. Eyeglasses also serve as protection against droplets of sneeze or cough that may contain the virus.
  • Prepare clean clothes and shoes you can change into after work. If possible, bring them to the office.
  • Pack enough alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) and keep it within reach.
  • If you are bringing your own car, get rid of nonessential items and instead, have disinfecting wipes available to wipe down high-touch surfaces.
  • Make sure that you sanitize your driving wheel and door latch regularly.
  • Wear a face mask.

COVID-19 Public Transportation - Safety Tips for Returning Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Blog- ARCH Offices

Source: The Wall Street Journal

In Transit

While traveling, it is important to remember that maintaining a 6-foot distance away from other people decreases your chances of getting infected and infecting others. Everyone has a responsibility to keep themselves and others safe from the virus. Always take into account the risks associated with different types of travel. You will be fine if you keep your distance and take all the necessary precautions.

  • Avoid frequent touchpoints.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Use your shoulder to push doors open.
  • Avoid crowded areas and mass gatherings.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately after touching potentially contaminated surfaces such as door latches or railings.
  • Steer clear of crowded public transports such as buses and jeepneys, especially if they are not following safety protocols.
  • If at all possible, switch to e-payments for using public transport.

ARCH Offices - Working Bar - Safety Tips for Returning Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Blog - ARCH Offices

ARCH Offices – NEX Tower

At Work

Make sure you are well aware of all the COVID-19 policies at your workplace and keep track of daily updates from your immediate supervisor or team leader. Should you feel that your safety is compromised due to violation of physical distancing rules or lack of safety measures, inform the administration right away.

  • As soon as you arrive in the office, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, covering every surface of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
  • Always keep your face mask on.
  • Avoid handshakes, high-fives, hugs, or any other physical contact with your colleagues. Stick to contactless greetings.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow if in case you are not wearing a face mask.
  • When eating, place your mask on a clean paper towel then store it in a clean paper bag.
  • If you must use the elevator, maintain physical distance and keep a toothpick handy to push the buttons. Discard immediately after use.
  • Avoid sitting in cramped spaces like meeting rooms or the cafeteria with your colleagues.
  • When using office utilities such as the coffee machine or the printer, make sure you sanitize your hands before and after use.
  • Sanitize or wash your hands before and after using the comfort room.
  • If a colleague is feeling unwell, inform your immediate supervisor or team leader right away.

Washing Hands - Safety Tips for Returning Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Burst from Pexels

Upon Arriving Home

While it is critical to follow safety measures at work, it is equally important to eliminate any risk of transmission upon returning home. Think about any possible risk you may have encountered throughout the day. Did you come in contact with some people during your commute? Always bear in mind the safety precautions you can take to protect your family and reduce your chances of being infected.

  • Take off your shoes outside your home. Clean them with disinfecting wipes.
  • Dispose of your mask properly. If it is made of cloth, wash it thoroughly with warm water and bleach solution. Use the highest heat setting and leave in the dryer until completely dry.
  • Disinfect your phone, wallet, eyeglasses, and any work supplies. Leave what you can at work.
  • Wash your hands and arms thoroughly with soap for 20 seconds before you touch anyone or anything.
  • Put your used clothes in a separate laundry basket or directly into the washing machine.
  • If you are working in a high-risk environment or you think you may have come in contact with a COVID-19 suspect, take a bath as soon as you reach home.
  • Disinfect and sanitize high-touch surfaces in your home regularly such as doorknobs, light switches, tables, handles, counter tops, faucets, appliances, etc.

 

The best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 is to avoid exposure, maintain physical distancing, and wash your hands regularly. If you start feeling unwell and believe you might have contracted the virus, isolate yourself from your family and call your local healthcare provider immediately. Always be cautions and follow these safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe despite the threat of coronavirus.

Maintaining a Safe Workplace for Returning Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Now that cities around the world are beginning to lift lockdown restrictions, it has become important for businesses to adopt new strategies and safety precautions before their employees go back to the office. As per global health authorities, evidence suggests that COVID-19 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces, which suggests the need for organizations to administer sanitary regulations and contemplate on the possibility of hands-free technology as part of their workplace reopening strategies.

Workplace safety extends not only to disinfecting and sanitizing the office, but to good communication and healthy office culture as well. It does not stop after disinfection and sanitation; it also extends to good communication and healthy office culture.

These guidelines will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reduce its impact on your employees as you navigate through this crisis and enter the new normal.

Clean and Disinfect Work Areas Regularly

Know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting, as explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Keeping surfaces clean is essential in mitigating the risk of COVID-19 transmission. These include laptops, keyboards, desks, keyboards, doorknobs, handles, light switches, faucets, and smartphones. In addition to regular cleaning using soap, water, and cloth, you can also use bleach and hydrogen peroxide but remember to follow all necessary dilution and protection practices according to the label.

Maintaining a Safe Workplace for Returning Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Freepik

Increase Safety and Security Measures

Research shows that the virus does not spread as easily in the outdoors or areas with good ventilation. Installing high-efficiency air filters and better HVACs (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems) will help you lessen the viral load in your office interior.

Employee screening is also highly recommended to better track potential carriers of the virus and it should be done by an official COVID-19 testing personnel. If Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is not available, no testing should take place.

 See guidelines below for COVID-19 testing personnel:

  • Screening shall be conducted at the office entrance using thermal scanners requiring no skin contact.
  • Stand behind a plastic or glass partition to avoid respiratory droplets that may be produced when employees talk, cough, or sneeze.
  • Wear a face shield, a pair of disposable gloves, and a gown if you expect to have extensive contact with the employee.
  • Check for signs of illness, which could include flushed cheeks or fatigue.
  • See if there is coughing or shortness of breath.
  • Check the temperature by reaching through an opening in the partition. Always keep your face behind the barrier.
  • Reusable thermometers must be cleaned between every check.
  • After screening the last employee, remove and discard PPE and gloves, and then clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or with hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • If the employee’s temperature is equal to or in excess of 37.4 degrees Celsius, he or she should not be allowed to enter the premises to commence work.

Always remind your employees to wear a face mask when inside the office premises, except only when drinking or eating. Doing so will help them protect themselves especially when it is difficult to maintain a 6-foot distance.

Maintaining a Safe Workplace for Returning Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Blog - ARCH Offices

Image Courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Observe Physical Distancing

Keep the transmission of COVID-19 under control by maintaining a safe distance of at least six (6) feet or two (2) meters from one another when possible. Workstations may have to be adjusted and rewiring may have to be done to widen the gap between employees.

Consider the following distancing strategies:

  • Increase physical space between employees’ workstations to ensure six (6) feet of distance.
  • Enable one-way traffic flow through hallways and aisles.
  • Offer flexible work arrangements. This method will lead to fewer people in the office as well as less face-to-face meetings. But before you plunge into a remote work set-up, you must make sure that your team’s IT infrastructure and laptops are well equipped and configured with the best technology for remote collaboration.
  • Arrange work schedules to decrease the number of people in an area at a time. Have some of your team members work remotely for a week, then have them come into the office the next week. Ensure that meticulous sanitation procedures are done between shifts.

Practice Proper Waste Management

Employers should conduct a thorough assessment of the hazards to which their employees may be exposed, then implement good waste disposal measures to avoid the risk of exposure.

  • Provide trash bins lined with a plastic bag for easier and contactless waste segregation.
  • Avoid touching used tissues and other waste when emptying trash bins.
  • Provide your employees with all necessary PPE once risk of infection is identified. Have the COVID-19 testing personnel train them on how to correctly use PPE and make sure that they follow the guidance available.
  • Dispose of items used to clean surfaces immediately.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water afterwards.

Develop an Effective Communication Strategy

Developing an integrated communication strategy is critical as you and your team navigate through these uncertain times. Now more than ever, it is important to reassure and support your employees who may be going through some challenges brought about by the pandemic.

Below are some of the best practices to consider when communicating with your team members amid the crisis, whether in-house or remote:

  • Give regular and concise updates that are relevant to your industry, business, and workplace.
  • Create an internal communication channel intended for posting company updates.
  • Put together a Communications team that is dedicated to answering questions and disseminating information across all departments.
  • Provide another communication channel where your employees can reach out for any concerns or issues that may arise.
  • Display signage throughout the entire office premises that will keep everyone mindful of safety: physical distancing, proper hygiene, wearing of face mask, cleaning recommendations, room etiquette, and symptom checks.
  • Encourage virtual meetings through video conferencing towards the end of a workday such as team snacks or happy hours, especially for those who are working remotely.

It is essential for leaders to keep your communication lines open and check in regularly with your team as it is easy for collaboration to dwindle without face-to-face interaction, particularly in the case of remote teams. Moreover, tell them how much you appreciate them and reassure them of the continuity of your operations as well as your core mission and values.

 

While timelines for reopening offices and resuming business activity remain fluid, businesses are expected to bring employees back to work amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As an employer and leader, it is your responsibility to prioritize the health and safety of your employees. Adopting a shift in workplace policies during this crisis may seem daunting, but approaching these efforts with an abundance of caution can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and ensure both your employees and facilities are prepared for the new normal after this pandemic.

7 Best Digital Tools to Keep Your Remote Team Connected

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In the past couple of months, remote work has been on the rise because of how the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to adapt to enable continuity of operations. This global health crisis has likewise led to organizations being accustomed to different schedules and habits that make remote work both manageable and productive. While this work arrangement can spur a great deal of difficulty at first, it also opens up an avenue for positive changes and increased collaboration among remote teams.

Now that you have adopted remote work policies and a remote workforce in place, how can you effectively communicate and collaborate with them especially during a crisis? Some challenges that remote work poses include time zones, technological differences, cultural differences, and language barriers, among others.

Apart from these unique threats, you also have all these common struggles associated with remote work to overcome:

Struggles of Remote Work - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: State of Remote Report, 2019

Managing a remote team is becoming the need of the hour. As a leader, it is your responsibility to set up the path for your team’s success. And these digital tools can significantly improve your remote work processes and help you stay on top of things while operating from your home office, a coworking space, or anywhere else in the world.

Slack - 7 Best Digital Tools to Keep Your Remote Team Connected - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Slack

For Quick Messaging and Chatting – Slack

Slack is a messaging remote work tool that helps in team communication, allowing you and your team to exchange ideas and give comments in real time. It has great team management features for planning, running projects, assigning teams, as well as playing games and activities. It is also an efficient platform for company-wide announcements and is available for both iOS and Android to give you complete functionality.

Other Best Features:

  • Different channels for multiple teams and projects
  • File sharing
  • Archived messages with a search feature
  • Third-party app integrations
  • Voice and video calls

Alternatives:

  • Google Hangout
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Skype
  • Flock
  • Wire
  • Mattermost

Zoom - 7 Best Digital Tools to Keep Your Remote Team Connected - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Zoom

For Video Conferencing – Zoom

Zoom is a video conferencing and communication tool designed for remote teams, virtual business conferences, webinars, virtual meetings, and other corporate purposes. Many business leaders regard Zoom as one of the best remote collaboration tools because it replicates face-to-face interactions and in-office meetings. You can see how your team reacts to a suggestion or an idea. You can even share your screen with other team members for a collaborative discussion when you are presenting. This is an effective feature especially if you are teaching someone how to use a new app or you want to display a document for the team. If you are a digital product seller, you can easily show them a demo without having to guess their genuine reactions. No wonder Zoom is one of the top market winners during this COVID-19 crisis.

Other Best Features:

  • Join as a view-only attendee
  • Built-in security measures like password protection
  • Instant or scheduled meeting setups
  • Fullscreen and gallery view
  • Voice sharing

Alternatives:

  • Google Hangouts Meet
  • join.me
  • Cisco Webex Meetings
  • GoToMeeting
  • BlueJeans

Toggl - 7 Best Digital Tools to Keep Your Remote Team Connected - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Toggl

For Time Management – Toggl

Toggl is an easy-to-use time tracking app that can give you an overview of time spent on various tasks. It was designed to accurately track how long it takes to accomplish a project and was originally intended for freelancers to ensure accurate invoicing and fair payments. The app’s data visualizations can help you compare profits against time spent on tasks and labor costs, allowing you to see which projects and clients are most profitable. Toggl is web-based but also offers native apps for desktop, iOS, and Android that sync together in real time. Furthermore, the app can be used both online and offline for continued productivity.

Other Best Features:

  • Charts
  • Day-by-day breakdown
  • Full reports
  • One-click time tracking
  • Reports sharing

Alternatives:

  • DeskTime
  • Everhour
  • Paymo
  • FreshBooks
  • RescueTime
  • Hubstaff

Evernote - 7 Best Digital Tools to Keep Your Remote Team Connected - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Microsoft

For Project Management – Evernote

Evernote works on all platforms, including smartphones and tablets, which makes it an ideal project management tool for you and your remote team. Sync your notes and files with ease across all your devices. This app serves as your personal digital assistant, task organizer, to-do-list, and pocket notebook. It can help you focus on what really matters and give you access to information when you most need it.

Other Best Features:

  • Editorial content calendar
  • Faster image recognition
  • Mobile offline notes
  • Business card scanning
  • Presentation mode
  • PDF annotation

Alternatives:

  • Trello
  • Google Sheets/Excel
  • Basecamp
  • Asana

Google Drive - 7 Best Digital Tools to Keep Your Remote Team Connected - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: PCMag

For Cloud Storage and File Sharing – Google Drive

Imagine your Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and even images and videos in one convenient location that is accessible to your remote team—that is Google Drive for you. With this digital tool, your team members can also collaborate on a particular document, leave comments, and make real-time changes. You can grant other people access to certain files and allow them to view or make edits as you wish. Moreover, Google Drive comes with a free 15g storage space.

Other Best Features:

  • Convert PDF files to Docs
  • Scan documents
  • Filter searches
  • One-tap phone backup
  • Set up offline access

Alternatives:

  • Dropbox
  • OneDrive
  • pCloud
  • Sync
  • Canto

Zapier - 7 Best Digital Tools to Keep Your Remote Team Connected - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Zapier

For Workflow Automation – Zapier

Simply put, Zapier can automate almost any type of business process. This workflow automation software has the ability to share data with and connect to over 1,000 web apps such as Facebook, Google Drive, and Slack, among others. Just build a workflow in their editor, select the apps you want to integrate into your workflow, and then design it. Zapier lets you create what they call “Zaps,” which allow you to build entire workflows using over 500 integrations from document sharing and social media to project management and email marketing.

Other Best Features:

  • Connect over 1,500 apps
  • User-friendly workflow editor
  • Multi-step workflows and conditioning logic
  • Collaboration tools for teams and organizations

Alternatives:

  • Automate
  • Zoho Creator
  • Microsoft Flow
  • Integrify
  • KiSSFLOW

Dashlane - 7 Best Digital Tools to Keep Your Remote Team Connected - Blog - ARCH Offices

Source: Dashlane

For Password Management – Dashlane

Having several passwords can be challenging, but a structured and secure password management tool will bear the burden for you. With just a few clicks, Dashlane can remember your login details. It is encrypted and easy to use especially for first-time users. This tool also has the capability to store logins for up to 50 accounts in a secure vault with multi-factor authentication. Should you opt for Dashlane’s premium service, you can monitor the dark web for data breaches and receive personalized alerts if any of your personal information appears in stolen data.

Other Best Features:

  • Easy syncing between devices
  • Includes VPN
  • Secure document storage
  • Extension that supports Chrome, Firefox, and Safari

Alternatives:

  • LastPass
  • Keeper Password Manager
  • RoboForm
  • True Key
  • Enpass

The COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of businesses to enable remote work. This work arrangement can be challenging, especially when it is sudden and uncalled for. But with the right digital tools in place, you can maximize productivity and establish collaborative workflows among your team members, wherever they may be in the world.