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6 common office and work problems employees face during COVID-19

Office and work problems during COVID-19

Work from home during COVID-19 can be stressful for many of us. More so because the lockdown was sudden, unexpected, and did not give anyone enough time to prepare. Let us look at some of the common work problems and office dilemmas and their possible solutions.

1. My office is reopening after COVID-19 lockdown but I don’t feel safe going back. What options do I have?

It is very natural to not feel safe going back to the office after the lockdown. Health and safety is of course the utmost priority for every employee. The best thing would be to communicate this concern directly with your line manager or HR manager. There are chances that they may have similar concerns themselves and maybe already working on a plan to tackle it. Most companies are drafting new policies and giving options to employees to chose whether to come to the office or continue working from home.

However, if your role requires your presence in the office, you can request for going to the office on alternate days to reduce your exposure. Or you can request a shift timing where there are lesser people at the office, if that is an available option. The objective is to find a win-win solution to this with the company.
So don’t overthink, go ahead, and communicate with your boss or the HR. You will get the right solution for you once you talk about it openly.

2. Our company is deducting 30 percent of everyone’s salary, I have so many expenses, how will I manage my monthly expenses?

COVID-19 has unfortunately disrupted life and business all over the world. Sectors that have been heavily affected have seen companies reducing their employees’ salaries.
One thing to note here is that in most companies this is only a temporary measure for a few months. So it is about finding ways to survive this tough period. If you have a loan, talk to your bank to defer the EMI for a few months. If you are paying school fees, check with the school on paying it in installments. Credit card companies are offering several 0% EPP options to pay off your liabilities, check with them.

A lot of companies are offering advance salaries to help employees with their cash flow. Use that option if available. Get an official letter from your employer on the reduction of your salary, and see if you can use it to get a reduction in your rent or school fees. You will never know until you try.
Finally, reduce your monthly expenses, avoid spending on unnecessary things or defer purchases that are not urgent. Things are already getting back to normal and it will only get better from here.

3. Business is down due to COVID-19 and I am worried that I will lose my job, what should I do?

Most companies are undergoing a structural change currently because of COVID-19. A lot of conventional ways of doing business are not working anymore. The market itself is adapting to this change and accepting the new reality.

If you feel that your job is becoming redundant, this is the time to step up and ask your manager for more work. Remember that companies are not in a position to hire new employees at this time. Hence more often than not, there may be a requirement in a new project or a new initiative in the company that you are not aware of.

The rule of thumb is to take initiative and seek these opportunities, rather than wait for someone to come to you. Managers appreciate employees who show interest in taking up new challenges.
It will give you two benefits- once you are part of an additional project, it will reduce your chances of becoming redundant, and secondly, you will be recognized for taking initiative in adverse times.

Also, you should start seriously looking at opportunities outside. The times are difficult, but also very uncertain. So you never know when an opportunity might knock on your door out of the blue, the trick is to just keep looking.

4. I am working very hard, but my boss assumes we’re slacking off when we work from home, what should I do?

Let us first acknowledge that no one was prepared for this lockdown. There was no formal training on how to work from home, there was no work from home policies in place at most companies and there was no proper guide for managers. It took everyone by surprise.
It is natural for some employees and managers to feel insecure, maybe due to the inherent company culture. Answer- Communicate better.
The solution is to set objectives correctly with your manager at the start of the week. Have a call to agree on what needs to be done in that week and who will do what? Agree on a time frame and then start the work.

Call your manager a couple of times during the week and give them an update or take his/her opinion on a subject. The objective is to involve them a little more in your work, maybe you can mark them in more emails than before. By doing this, they will feel more connected and involved. The feeling of insecurity will be much lesser or totally vanish.

5. My subordinate is expecting a promotion because of his/her excellent performance last year. However, due to the COVID-19 situation, the company can not afford anyone’s promotion, how should I communicate this?

Have a look at 8 effective ways to motivate employees. Contrary to popular belief, it will give you some insights into what is critical for keeping employees motivated.

As a manager, if you are convinced that your subordinate displayed excellent performance and deserves the promotion, you need to raise it internally with your own boss. Why? Even though you are aware that the company will not be promoting anyone now, you still need to ensure that management knows that this employee was due for the promotion which could not be given. Remember, out of sight is out of mind.

Check if there is a provision to promote later in the middle of the year, once things are back on track. Also, explore if there is any other option available now, like giving a higher designation or a bigger role, without the financial increment.
Based on this discussion, go back to your subordinate and explain the situation. In such cases, it is always better to communicate directly and not avoid it. If he/she knows that the company has recognized the efforts and has a plan in place for him/her in the near future, it will give him/her a positive mindset to do better and wait for the right time.

6. My boss is working from home with his kids — and his schedule is wreaking havoc on my work, what should I do?

Let us first acknowledge that no one was prepared for this lockdown. There was no formal training on how to work from home, there were no work from home policies in place at most companies, and there was no proper guide for managers. It took everyone by surprise!

If your boss works during odd hours because of his kids and you cannot, there is no harm talking about it to him. You can politely mention your active work hours and say that you cook food during the evening or maybe do some other chore during the morning and hence are not available.
However, if your entire team is working during odd hours, unfortunately, the best thing will be to adjust yourself to this schedule. It is difficult, but we all know that it is temporary. Considering the gravity of the COVID situation, it is best to be seen as someone who is cooperative and can adapt him/her in times of adversity.

Facing some trouble in your office or stuck somewhere in your career?
Have a business decision to take, but not sure what to do?
Need an opinion on something related to your work?

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