Hong Kong employees are getting more anxious working from home as they face many measures for containing COVID-19.
A recent Mercer Hong Kong live poll, conducted during their Healthy People Webinar, showed that 84% of Hong Kong employees worry about workplace safety at home. In comparison, 55% said that returning to work was an enormous concern, while 48% kept worrying whether they have adequate health coverage.
Mercer observes that Hong Kong HR leaders have done well in provisioning internet connectivity, secure software and laptops with virtual meeting capabilities. These may be great for remote working from an office environment or coworking spaces but working from home needs additional mental health support.
The Mercer study highlighted five primary challenges that Hong Kong employees face when working from home.
1. Inadequate training in remote working
Employees may have the right tools and technologies at their disposal. But without the right training, they will not be productive. Companies need to have more resources to get employees ready.
2. Family matters intrude
Half of the respondents cited that their workspace at home is “negatively impacting” their work. Key reasons are interruptions from children (39%) and other family members (27%). Companies need to help employees mentally prepare for creating the right environment.
3. Self-discipline is lacking
The Mercer live poll revealed 54% struggled with self-discipline: becoming distracted or frustrated by home-based tasks. Some employees are wired for office interactions and are sorely missing it. While others need to see others working to discipline themselves. With these two factors missing, HR leaders need to help employees cope with the change.
4. No control over working hours
Having the freedom to start and stop work is stressing a lot of employees. The study showed that in some circumstances, employees who work from home don’t know when to stop or don’t say no. It becomes a glaring issue when your colleagues are online or in different time zones.
5. Forgetting about personal health, hygiene and fitness
Employees need to take regular breaks or keep themselves healthy with regular exercise. Many do not have such a regime when working from home.
While working from home for brief periods of time has its benefits, Mercer sees being forced to work from home has negative impacts. It also offers a wake-up call for HR leaders from a recruitment, workforce design, policy, and healthcare perspective.
To address these concerns, employers need to embrace the fundamentals of good management no matter where their employees work. These, according to Mercer, include: ensuring employees know what needs to be done; having a framework or deadline for completing the work; having the support to ensure it gets done or the ability to report back if it cannot be done; keeping in touch with them; keeping checking on their wellbeing; taking time to make sure they still feel like they’re connected with their team members and your company’s purpose.
With a large part of the global workforce working from home, these fundamentals may provide the framework for the future workforce and employee engagement.
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