We’re here, we care: tips to dial-up compassion during the second wave

Sindhu Shivaprasad

Here's the thing about large-scale catastrophes like COVID-19: they drag in some serious baggage. Think doomsday feelings, helplessness, anxiety, and more. That’s already a lot to handle, but everyone's still going above and beyond expectations to stay afloat. Human resilience knows no bounds, right?

Sure. But can we stop looking at that as a challenge to push ourselves beyond breaking points? Resilience is about recharging, not enduring. After all, you can stretch a rubber band as far as it goes, but then it will break, or shoot back painfully.

Recharging is so important in a workplace because:

The impact of every teammate's productivity and happiness is exponential.

This is an invitation to stop being an overstretched rubber band. To help your colleagues take a break and recharge, whether that’s by setting boundaries, supporting the community or indulging in what brings joy.

We’d love to help maximise happiness and minimise damage. We’ve been doing this ourselves — so here are some of our best tips.

Caring for your team during the second wave

Make time to get in the flow

We’re all makers. And the most effective way for makers to use their time is in half-day or full-day blocks. Encourage your team to break up their calendars into deep work and busy work time, so they aren’t overwhelmed any more than they are. Assigning fixed hours or days to deep work will create a state of flow that’s free of distractions. And there’s enough time left to get to those demanding emails and meetings!

Respect the optimal performance zone

Each of your teammates has an ‘optimal performance zone‘, a time frame where stress enhances their performance. But when that threshold is crossed, stress hinders productivity — what was challenging becomes frustrating.

When that happens, invite your teammates to step away from the computer or take a day off. Obvious, for example, has ‘investment days’ meant for teammates to work on personal projects, read, or take a course — whatever helps them get their head back in the game. Urge everyone else to save their messages for after the ‘Away’ palm tree emoji disappears.

Foster a sense of community

Volunteering is a wonderful way to stay in the human loop, and your policies can encourage that. Introducing non-deductible vacation days for those who want to volunteer their time is a clear green signal of your support. So is organising team donations to meaningful causes. We’ve individually donated to Hemkunt Foundation and Mission Oxygen.

A sense of community is hard to come by during remote work — virtual meetings can feel monotonous because banter is less serendipitous. But it’s still important! Leaving room for banter during a meeting or Slack thread sparks natural interactions and reduces the loneliness that sometimes springs from WFH.

Celebrate the little things

When it feels like there’s isn’t much to celebrate, then the little things matter the most. Our favourite ways to celebrate them are:

  • Highlighting daily wins where everyone can see them
  • Celebrating birthdays and work anniversaries with cheer
  • Organising game nights to drum up some friendly competition
  • Creating spaces for 1-to-1 conversations, rants, or vents

Set a ‘lights out’ time

Ever spent five minutes working on something only to realise it’s already midnight and you’ve technically been off the clock for 5 hours? Yeah, us too. And it’s not good.

Setting a ‘lights out’ time can signal the end of the workday to the whole team. Daily emails, automatic Slack reminders, and paused notifications are convenient ways to get everyone to wind down at that fixed time. This way, everyone sticks to boundaries and prioritises who they are outside of work for the rest of the day!

Hit the brakes before the brakes hit you

How many times have you seen a colleague burn out, then realise they’re burnt out, and then take a break? Way too many times, we’d wager. But that order of situations isn’t doing anyone any favours. Retroactive solutions do diddly-squat when burnout runs away with your star performers.

The real benefit lies in predicting burnout before it happens and asking that colleague to take a break. Even half a day off for recuperating or recovering can help stave off burnout. Your colleague will return to their former glory with no damage done!

Recharge on the regular

If things feel like a boulder being rolled up a hill only to tumble back down, it’s time to keep your team from becoming the next Sisyphus (you know, Greek mythology). Let everyone know that breaks are welcome and that guiltily checking messages during a break is a No-No.

Empower teams to plan their projects, keeping in mind that emergencies happen. They won’t be overwhelmed, and the on-a-break colleague can take their mind off work. In the long haul, helping your teams protect their time and energy like this will make them much happier and prevent burnout.

We can only perform as well as we recover.

Monica Pillai, Head of People Experience, Obvious

We're here, we care

When Pandora’s Box opened and horrifying things (ahem: pandemic) sprung out, Hope was the only thing that remained.

We’re not suckers — we know our individual control over the terrifying threats we’re facing is limited. No one’s ever going to be prepared for a pandemic to come and change everything we know and love.

But isn’t that more reason to respect individual capacities and account for the ruthless environment that everyone’s powering through? Encouraging rest and recharging is a powerful way of saying, “Hey, we’re here. And we care.”

To an extent, our world is what we make it. We’re here to support you as you make your world kind. Help your team practice self-care (not just the consumerist kind), and be well. 🤍

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