Editor's note: Welcome to Resource Actions, our occasional column covering everything from the bizarre to the day-to-day that, despite everything, impacts HR departments. Kathryn Moody usually writes this with Ryan Golden, but today you are stuck with just Kathryn because Ryan is busy covering the new leave law. Please feel free to send all tips, thoughts and extremely outlandish pitches to [email protected] and [email protected].
New to remote work? Welcome.
While some employers had infrastructure in place to cope with a shift like this, employees at other companies may be at a total loss. No offices? No free coffee machine or small kitchen in which to seek out the company gossipmonger? How do you hold meetings? Where is everybody? This is madness.
For HR pros, this shift — prompted, of course, by the new coronavirus — has bred fascinating new headaches. For marketers, it has created opportunity. And my inbox is full of their, uh, very interesting new pitches.
Below I've listed four subject lines straight from my inbox that caught my attention. Like anthropologists, we'll piece together what this means for this curious era of remote work.
Are you or your colleagues panicking about what to wear while working from home? Probably not, but a big part of adjusting to working from home full time is ensuring you are in the mindset to work. Experts largely agree that there can be great psychological benefits from changing out of pajamas into more standard day clothes.
"You have to take a shower. Yes, yes you do," Tsedal Neeley, a professor at Harvard Business School, said on a recent podcast. "You have to get dressed, not necessarily what you would wear on a regular basis when you go into the office — but you have to get dressed, no pajamas."
Betabrand says: We got you, fam. Enter the WFH Pants, in "50 colors and styles" — a rebrand of the company's Dress Pant Yoga Pants.
"They're tailor-made for the worker who wants to transition from pajamas into something more professional — but just as comfortable — for their newly remote job," according to Betabrand.
Truthfully, I have yet to be on a video call where I see someone's pants. I am not complaining about this. I would, however, like to take this moment to remind everyone to please wear a shirt any time you even think about turning on your camera.
Food may be an even bigger deal for workforces that now must fully work from home, just a few yards away from the snack cabinet. We've seen your tweets. I'm struggling. You're struggling. The cookies are right there.
SnackNation, in its pitch to me, says it wants to send healthy snacks right to an employee's door. These boxes include things like protein bars, granola, jerky and "beanitos" chips to help employees stave off junk food cravings.
While concerns about employee health may be honed in on other matters, employers in the midst of setting up a remote wellness program may find food to be one of the biggest hurdles to encouraging employees to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Addendum: I ate three chocolates and a string cheese writing this column. Don't ask me for advice on this.
The office but make it a video game
Offices new to remote work may feel especially adrift, leading some to turn to virtual workspaces to capture that "in person" feeling.
Event Farm and VirBELA's solution, for instance, is a "customizable event space" that allows for presentations in massive auditoriums, provides board rooms for smaller meetings and even creates "outdoor environments" for "casual mingling." But it is far from the first platform to offer employers such a service and it won't be the last.
These platforms tend to tout employees' ability to create personal avatars that can "walk" through a virtual space, like in a video game. I've heard from employers that swear by the tech for their completely remote workforces, using it to create a sense of community.
But perhaps one bonus of standard video sans avatars is that you do not have to tell people "please do not emote" and "please remain in your seat." Maybe I've played too many video games, but I can't help but compare it to the not-safe-for-work game, Second Life, a pioneer in the "virtual lifestyle" space.
Notably, Zoom — the remote conferencing app garnering popularity in the stock markets and on Twitter — can also give way to some shenanigans. Either way, this option is out there for employers that need it.
Finding your cannabis calm?
Dear reader, I could happily list for you the various levels of confusion that state marijuana laws have introduced for HR managers. It's the veritable Wild West of compliance, and courts are making decisions regarding employee marijuana use rights every few months — many of them siding with the employee.
New Jersey's supreme court, for example, recently allowed a lawsuit to continue wherein a funeral director claimed he was improperly fired for using medical marijuana. Some of you are not ready for this reality, a Paychex poll released last year discovered.
I could also try to explain micro-dosing, but I will let Green Flower Media CEO Max Simon do that for you: "It's times like this that micro-dosing cannabis can truly be a transformational experience. You will find it instantly settles your anxiety, brings you a sense of peace and calm, and is very safe in the comfort of your home.
"You're working from home: It's finally the RIGHT TIME to try micro-dosing cannabis for stress mgmt and productivity on the job," screams the company's email subject line.
I'll just let you think about this one. Times are hard. I'm not your lawyer.