The COVID-19 pandemic has created a generation of knowledge workers who want to have the option of working remotely. Companies with distributed teams had been increasing year on year, even before the pandemic. Pioneering companies such as WordPress have been operating with remote employees and distributed teams for over a decade.
While, in many instances, remote work can increase productivity and enhance employee retention, it’s not without negative consequences. Loneliness is often an issue; communication can be difficult at times, and staying focused and motivated is not always easy.
A company’s culture consists mainly of the attitudes, beliefs and standards of the organization and its employees. It can be challenging to establish a consistent set of values when people rarely, if ever, meet face to face.
A lot of people dislike meetings, especially team meetings, as they can seem a bit pointless. However, it is essential to catch up as a team, even if it is just for 10 minutes per week, to make sure that everyone is doing well and working towards the same goal. Working remotely without regular catchups can make employees feel completely isolated and out of mind.
Tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom are great for video calls and meetings. Face-to-face engagement, even if it is online, can help to alleviate any feelings of loneliness.
Organizations such as Moneypenny have also reported that using the ‘internal’ social media platform Workplace from Facebook has provided a great channel or medium for employees to keep updated with company events and goings-on. This can be especially helpful during lockdown periods when social media might be the central interaction-channel employees get with other people.
Be Part of a Team
Being part of a team that cares about you is often one of the best things about a typical job. Feeling safe and looked after by your teammates is also fantastic for mental health and wellbeing. Feeling safe allows us to relax and stimulates the vagus nerve – which comes with a host of benefits.
The way we communicate, the way we address each other in video meetings, and how teams collaborate on projects can go a long way towards making each employee feel part of a team. If teams are managed in a dictatorial fashion, employees are unlikely to feel respected.
Celebrating successes, birthdays and Christmas in some way can also help bring teams together. Even if it’s done by sending a small gift in the post, celebrating birthdays can help alleviate a feeling of being invisible. Acknowledging and rewarding productivity and successful projects can also help to reassure remote employees that the company knows that they are working hard.
If people work really hard and are not acknowledged, they can feel demotivated.
Some employees will want to keep a distinct barrier between work and personal life, and that’s perfectly fine. Others will want to share interests and engage with colleagues outside of work. Internal social media platforms such as Workplace can help employees connect with others with whom they have things in common. The more connected and engaged people are with other employees, the more affinity they will tend to have for the company that employs them.
Company Values & Mission Statement
Make sure that remote workers are reminded of the company values. Values are the foundation of an organization that guides behavior and decisions.
An excellent way to keep employees up to date with the company and, at the same time, to promote company values is to create an internal newsletter. Workplace is great, but not everyone will check a social media platform that can be overwhelmingly active. Both Workplace and a company newsletter could feature and promote company values to keep them at the forefront of remote employee’s minds.
Another great way to promote the company’s core values is to create a peer-to-peer recognition scheme. For example, employees could nominate colleagues for an award because they have demonstrated one of the company’s values. A colleague, for example, could have gone the “extra mile” to help out a client or another employee or because they “presented solutions, not problems” when faced with a difficult challenge.
When people feel isolated or unhappy, they are often too scared or too embarrassed to speak up. Creating a quarterly survey that asks employees how they feel, what the company could do to help them feel more part of the culture and how productivity can be improved – could provide valuable insights.
Sometimes the best ideas come from people within the company, who are not usually involved in pivotal discussions and meetings. A survey can be a great way to let employees share ideas, vent and to keep stakeholders on the pulse in terms of company morale.
Lunch Break Wellness
Many organizations offer subsidized gym memberships and have onsite fitness classes. The pandemic has seen a surge in the popularity of online classes and home fitness equipment. A great way to catch up with colleagues and keep fit could be to engage in Zoom or Microsoft Teams fitness classes such as yoga and Pilates.
Wellness activities can keep employees engaged and connected while at the same time promoting their overall wellbeing and fitness.