In this article, Paul Rowlett, from corporate gift specialists EverythingBranded, offers advice on the best way to keep up your positive company culture when staff are working from home.
While the current COVID-19 pandemic has forced a lot of companies to adopt remote working for the first time, many have found that it’s been a resounding success and plan to continue offering it in the future. There’s certainly a growing demand for it: 44% of workers intend to ask for a permanent flexible working arrangement, even after the crisis has ended (Direct Line).
As remote working is seemingly here to stay, one of the biggest challenges that your company will face is maintaining the positive culture that attracted so many of your talented employees to begin with. Doing so is essential for keeping up morale and teamwork, both of which are so vital for your firm’s success. To help you adapt, I’m going to share some tips for maintaining that positivity, even when many of your staff are working from home and not present in the office.
Create clear routes for communication
When your staff are all present in an office environment, it’s easy to hold a team meeting, check in on a project, or just take in your employees’ thoughts and feelings. However, introducing an across-the-board remote working option presents new challenges to communication within your company, and it doesn’t take long for staff to feel left behind or even abandoned if they’re not addressed.
Make it a priority to create clear lines of communication for remote working employees. This should mean that you’re regularly updating them on the progress of the company and any projects they’re involved in. Be sure that they’re aware of and trained on any tools you’ve put in place, like video call software or chat functions. You should also encourage supervisors to check in with their team once a day at the very least while making sure that they have time in their day to do so.
You should also be open to feedback from your team — communication is a two-way street, after all. This means letting your staff know that they can come to you with suggestions on how to improve your remote working practices and policies. It may be worth setting up an anonymous survey where the team can provide honest feedback without feeling any pressure. It’s important that you treat all responses in a balanced manner, even if they’re negative, to show you’re listening.
One of the parts of the workplace that can go missing when people work from home is the social aspect. Whether it’s the friendly chats in the office or after-work drinks that are missing, it’s hard to replicate these things remotely without making an effort. Though it may seem like these things are not a priority behind actual work, it’s important to remember that having a team that socialises is vital for improving collaboration and teamwork, so it can actually be a very beneficial use of your time.
Thankfully, advances in technology have made it easier to stay virtually connected, so it shouldn’t be too much effort to organise a work online social. This could be a pub quiz, film night, gaming session, or even just a good old drink and chat, but the most important thing is that your staff can reconnect and still feel like they’re part of a team, even when they’re away from the office.
Promote a healthy work/life balance
As your staff may be working remotely for long periods of time, it’s worth being aware of how easy it is for them to fall into a routine of spending more time on the job than usual. When a home becomes a workspace, it can blur the line between needing to be switched on and off, reducing the time they end up taking to destress and putting them at risk of burnout.
Therefore, you should be doing as much as possible to promote a healthy work/life balance. Start by establishing a curfew for emails and undertaking a review of workloads to make sure no one is doing too much overtime. Communication is important here again, and you should make it clear to staff that they can talk to their supervisor if they’re finding it too difficult to stay on top of their work. You could also organise a weekly mental health hour, where staff can take some time away from their computer to partake in an activity that helps them relax.
With remote working set to play a big role in the future of many companies, it’s important that steps are taken to promote a positive culture. Hopefully, these tips will help you to protect the wellbeing of your staff that are logging on from home going forward.