The readjustment of workforce expectations due to the fatigue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has been in the news. Managers must evaluate their expectations of their teams, argues a recent Harvard Business Review article featured in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Shelter in place and, for many, work from home has been the norm over the past few months. Some of us have been work-from-home superstars and maintained equal or even higher levels of productivity in a home office.
But Rebecca Zucker with the HBR argues that is not the case for most. The culprits? Emotional and cognitive fatigue. Compassion fatigue. Physical fatigue.
If we’re being honest, we can all probably relate.
“The pandemic has created an emotional and cognitive ‘tax’ that takes up mental capacity that we were previously free to devote to work,” claims Zucker. While the need to provide heightened levels of empathy can “deplete our energy and mental resources,” the pandemic has further led to increased anxiety and depression, leading to workers “feeling physically tired or even chronic fatigue.”
Considering this, the writer suggests managers should readjust their productivity expectations. Here’s a summary of some of these guidelines:
- Re-prioritize projects and deadlines
- Reassess the level of detail or quality needed for your projects and your metrics for success
- Rebalance work among team members
- Expect the same level of responsiveness or availability as before
- Assume that others will handle this type of situation in the same way as you
- Assume that others will tell you when they feel overwhelmed or need help
Rest assured, the article by no means directs its readers to permit team members to slack off nor does it encourage managers to be lax. It instead suggests heightened awareness—and also the realization that this shift is temporary, with the goal of lasting positive results.
My hope is that as we move into summer—when the homeschooling presumably ends and the world gradually reopens—some of the work-from-home necessity (and accompanying distractions) will relent, thus enabling our collective fatigue to subside and higher productivity to resume.