Remote work tests CIOs' soft skills amid coronavirus crisis

From virtual office hours to Yam Jams and WFH Slack sessions, CIOs are doing everything they can to keep their teams connected during a pandemic that has driven them, physically, apart.

IT leaders have cleared the technical hurdles of supporting thousands of employees sent to work at home by the coronavirus pandemic. The next leg of this remote work journey has proved more daunting, as CIOs grapple with managing the mental health of their charges.

Never before have so many office workers been so abruptly displaced. The COVID-19 outbreak triggered self-isolation and quarantine, amplifying feelings of fear, anxiety and stress, which in turn impact worker morale and, ultimately, productivity.

Fifty-three percent of 1,000 American workers surveyed by KPMG in April said that their mental health has worsened and that they are finding it difficult to achieve a good work/life balance, according to Matt Campbell, managing director of People & Change at KPMG U.S. Moreover, 72 percent of managers polled said their jobs have become more demanding since the COVID-19 outbreak. "They are feeling more stressed and less able to cope with the work environment," Campbell says.

Coping with ‘Zoom fatigue’

May happens to be National Mental Health Awareness month, but that’s little consolation for overstressed and anxiety-ridden staff. Some patterns are emerging to test CIOs' soft skills, a perpetually underrated aspect of managing teams of hundreds or even thousands of IT workers.

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