As many of us are learning how to work from home, HR leaders and managers are having to learn how to maintain connection and build a remote work culture throughout their organizations during this time. And this is no small feat. How do you continue to build strong relationships when everyone is physically isolated from each other? In this article, we are going to list a few ideas that will help your staff overcome the distance and feel united. You can also watch our full webinar on HR Considerations for Remote Work here.
1. Focus on Honest Communication and Transparency
This new way of working is one that many, if not all, of us, have never experienced before. In a matter of weeks, a significant number of businesses closed their office doors and sent their employees to work from home. We didn’t know what the future held, and we still don’t.
Many organizations are unsure when they will be able to reopen their doors to employees or clients, and it can be unnerving. During this uncertainty, we recommend focusing on communication at your organization. Let your employees know what is going on, even if it’s only temporary. Be transparent and completely honest.
Encourage managers to have consistent check-ins with their teams. Keep everyone updated on the latest plans. If you are a leader at your organization, send weekly emails or hold weekly video meetings to communicate important information. Don’t leave your employees in the dark during this stressful time.
2. Cultivate Positivity and Understanding
Many individuals at your company are likely dealing with significant stress and anxiety right now. To help combat this, emphasize positivity and cultivate a sense of understanding.
Our way of working may be completely different, but there are positives that this change can bring. For example, employees most likely have more freedom now than they did working in the office. They can take a walk during a break. They can spend their lunch with their family and children. Highlight these positive aspects of working remotely and help your employees see them.
It’s also important to understand the challenges that everyone is facing right now and normalize it. Let your team know that it’s okay that their at-home office isn’t perfect. Be compassionate when a coworker’s child or pet interrupts a meeting. Be understanding when someone’s home internet crashes and kicks them out of a video call. We are all human, and we are all experiencing these difficulties right now, so it’s okay.
3. Continue Providing Feedback and Coaching
When working a job, one thing that provides fulfillment and satisfaction to employees is receiving feedback that helps them learn and grow. As an HR leader or manager, you most likely spend a significant amount of time coaching your team. However, this can seem far more difficult to do while working separately. Don’t let it slip through the cracks.
We highly recommend that you continue focusing on providing feedback while at home. Feedback is a gift. It gives individuals goals and any praise they deserve. It keeps them engaged in their work and the organization as a whole. So, utilize tools like Microsoft Teams or Zoom to continue monthly or annual reviews and check-ins.
4. Don’t Forget About Fun
One thing about working in the office that many of us are missing is the social aspect. We no longer have that face-to-face interaction with our coworkers just catching up and having fun. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring some fun to your team virtually.
Find creative ways to keep your employees connected outside of just work talk. A few great ideas are:
- Hold Friday trivia Zoom calls
- Have your team send in a YouTube link of their current favorite song in the group chat
- Create a separate thread to share recipes, pictures, videos, quotes, and more
There are so many ways to keep up on team-building activities outside of the office. Create an environment that allows people to be who they are and still contribute and do their best work. These outlets that let people show their unique personalities and humor will help maintain your remote work culture and keep individuals connecting and having fun.
5. Nurture Trust & Provide Flexibility
As a manager, you have to trust your employees. However, cultivating trust is much easier when everyone is in one office working together. You can see everyone completing their tasks — when they come in the morning and when they leave.
When everyone is working from home, it can be easy to wonder if everyone is staying productive or letting distractions get to them. However, you have to remember to trust your employees even when you can’t physically see them working.
On top of that, it’s also important to provide more flexibility during this time. Many employees that are parents may have to work different hours so they can help their children with schoolwork during the morning. It’s all about understanding this and communicating.
6. Utilize Technology and Other Tools
One thing that organizations have going for them during this time is technology. There is such amazing tech available to help us weather this storm. Tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams allow us to continue to connect with our teammates. We can still get that human face interaction even while we are physically distant.
So, take advantage of these tools. Usually, we can just walk to someone’s desk to talk through a problem or ask a question. Now we need to find other ways to do this, and technology is the perfect solution.
You can use Teams to set up office hours. During this time, anyone can jump in the call to ask a question or brainstorm. It imitates that open-door policy many of us have. We also already mentioned the importance of having fun, and these products are a great way to do that. You can set up online gaming, bingo, show and tell, and more using these platforms.
There are other tools like Nectar, that allows employees to give away points to others for a job well done or receive points in games. It inspires a little healthy competition and is a great way to give praise. You can also use Mentimeter for interactive presentations, trivia, and more. These technologies can help get your employees involved even from home.
7. Provide Resources for Physical and Mental Health
One thing employers might be overlooking during this time is physical and mental health. Ergonomics is extremely important, but employees might not have the correct equipment at home to support this. However, there are great resources out there with helpful information that you can send to your employees. Also, encourage them to take breaks, stretch, go for a walk, and work safely.
Beyond physical wellbeing, some of your employees might be struggling emotionally. As a company, if you can help support your employees, the better off you’ll be. Provide information for stress management and anxiety. There are so many free resources right now. You might even consider offering meditation sessions or support groups. The line between work and home is blurred right now, so encourage work/life balance and support your employees’ mental health.
In Conclusion: Building a Remote Work Culture
We have talked a lot about the technical side of working from home recently. Setting up remote-ready environments, security, and more. However, maintaining a strong remote work culture and supporting the human side of your business is just as important.