The outbreak of COVID-19 and accompanying isolation regulations have highlighted the importance of those (seemingly unnecessary) water-cooler conversations. Companies are now forced to seek for alternative touch-points amongst the workforce to help bond the team and keep everyone engaged.
These efforts are not unjustified, as it has been proven that businesses with strong cultures have higher financial profitability and employees are also more driven and productive. The following advice will serve to strengthen relationships and culture within your company regardless of where your employees are.
1. Video is King
Using video for face-to-face interactions during meetings and daily catch-ups is an easy strategy to prevent employees from feeling lonely or excluded. Furthermore, if done regularly, these moments can provide a much needed sense of routine and an excuse for people to lose their pajamas. In addition, video calls with colleagues in their homes can provide a sneak peak to their reality outside the office, solidifying connections and empathy amongst the team. For instance, Heka we share a daily Google Hangout link to empower people to connect and chat spontaneously.
2. Avoid micromanaging
The success of your remote team is largely determined by the levels of trust and transparency, both between employees and with managers. Although it may be tempting to continuously check-in and ask for updates, this must be avoided at all costs. As American author Ernest Hemingway said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
An excessive amount of check-ins will decrease motivation and may even prevent your employees from going the extra mile (something which will be crucial to overcome these difficult times). Be outcome-focused instead of work-focused and embrace the fact that employees will work during their most productive periods, regardless of whether these align with the usual 9 to 5.
3. Encourage friendly, social interactions
Companies must provide opportunities for social interaction and community building. Remote working doesn’t mean that you need to cancel all socials and meetups, on the contrary, these are even more important. Current circumstances make it particularly important to make these reunions inclusive and focused on boosting well-being. For instance, Medallia, a global customer experience platform, has implemented weekly wellness socials for their London team. These virtual events keep the team united, engaged and motivated. Other ideas include virtual workshops, group meditations and company-wide competitions which allow people to relax, unwind and let go of any anxieties.
4. Serve your team
The outbreak of COVID-19 likely has many of your employees feeling stressed and uncertain with regards to what will happen. Crises like the one we are experiencing are opportunities to serve and support your workforce. Schedule virtual 1:1s and be open to listen to any worries or concerns; be mindful that it may be necessary to make exceptions and be flexible in some circumstances. This will not only make people feel more secure and confident, but will also increase productivity and long-term loyalty. To be more precise, employees who feel heard are 4.6 time more likely to perform their work to the best standards and 96% of employees feel that empathy is crucial to retention.
While it may be impossible to meet with every single member of your team, there are always ways to make people feel you care for their personal well-being. For instance, provide easy access to online services like counselling or life-coaching which can be essential to overcome the present challenges.
5. People-focus over profit-focus
Having a people-focus means that you are not only interested in your employees’ performance at the company, but are also invested on their personal success. Getting your team to deliver their full potential goes hand in hand with empowering them to be their best selves in every other area of their lives including their mental health, quality of sleep, personal development and overall well-being. Personalised wellness platforms are a great way of ensuring that each person can dedicate time to whatever experience helps them to relax, blow off some steam and simply reset after a long day. Whether this is yoga, boxing or meditation, it is important that they have the tools to make progress towards their personal well-being objectives.