One of the biggest changes brought forth by COVID-19 is the virtualization of the traditional 9-to-5 work culture. The more the number of cases increases, the higher levels of anxiety and doubt among employees.
As a result, one of the biggest questions faced by business leaders right now is how they can maintain the essence of company culture and keep team morale high despite everyone working remotely.
There are a lot of great tools available to close the distance gap, like a scrum board. Having resources like this helps make company organization easier and keep employees in the loop about recent events. But for boosting their morale, a different approach has to be adopted.
In this article, we’ll discuss a few ways you can support your employees while simultaneously promoting culture-binding to uplift their spirits.
Extending full support to every employee
The remote workforce culture is new for everyone – including your best employees. Building and maintaining relationships with co-workers (especially those newer to the company) can become harder while working from home. Your team might end up feeling isolated and on their own, causing them to lose sight of their purpose at work, which certainly isn’t good for your company.
As a business owner, one thing you should know is that your employees are your biggest assets. So, you have to take the initiative to foster a sense of belonging and purpose for boosting revenue and overall business growth.
You can create a virtual version of “watercooler culture“ where everybody interacts briefly – even for just 15 minutes every other day – to shoot the breeze. Hold team meetings to check in with everyone and find out how everyone is doing on a personal level.
You can then check in with them discreetly on a professional level using an online app that will allow you to track their time and see exactly how productive they are during work. While doing this, make sure every meeting starts with your remote workforce going around the circle, so no employee gets left behind.
Prioritize productivity over actual hours worked
This pandemic has created a new set of unique challenges, which is why you need to have a broader thought process when it comes to working.
With everybody working from home, it’s more than likely that the total number of hours clocked will change. Rather than emphasizing a rigid eight-hour shift, make productivity the priority. This shift will create an environment of trust and understanding where everybody takes responsibility instead of the usual supervision culture.
For example, imagine you want to launch a new web application. You decide to hire a web developer who knows the best practices to design and create an appealing app that can drive conversions and sales.
Now, the goal here is to have a web application that fulfils your business objectives. Your priority should be to make sure the developer works consistently to complete all the milestones you laid out in the project. But, maybe the developer can finish the work in less time than the timeline dictates. You wouldn’t want them to waste their time drawing out the project to match the timeline or finish neatly at 5 p.m. Hence, you should emphasize the quality of work instead of the number of hours spent to complete the project.
Hold strategic meetings to keep everyone connected
Krisp, a noise-canceling app, found out that 9 in 10 remote employees felt that video conferencing helps them feel more connected with their team. Since we can’t have traditional meetings in an office setting, you can use Zoom or Google Meet to hold all-company meetings.
Both platforms can be an excellent way to connect your whole team and align interests. Start by sharing highlights and numbers of the previous week, and then move on to sharing the current week’s priorities. You can easily recreate your daily stand up and scrum over video conference to keep your normal workflow at home.
Always send the agenda to team members involved, along with the date and time a few days in advance so everyone can attend. You can also adopt specific retrospectives to further streamline things and have strategic points of discussion, such as the Starfish Retrospective for a smoother workflow or the Mad Sad Glad Retrospective to reviewing tasks and gaining useful insights from recently finished projects.
In fact, holding meetings can be your primary avenue for keeping the company culture alive. Aside from sharing business and people updates, you can also use these meetings for celebrating milestones and issuing reminders to everyone about business objectives and goals.
Ensuring Two-Way Communication
One of the biggest challenges of remote work is to keep everyone on the same page since operations are always going to remain dynamic. Because of this, you’ll have to take the initiative to make communication more frequent. Set aside time to update your employees about the current business outlook, project direction and priority changes, and customer stories.
The priority is to make communication a two-way street, so you should also encourage employees to voice their opinions freely. Ask them to speak up and submit questions and share their suggestions during calls. Make sure you’re also motivating them to share feedback with their superiors.
In addition to this, the communication should be free-flowing. Encourage employees to invite people from the executive team, including the CEO, for virtual social meetings.
Make online time fun time
Creating a remote working culture in a team used to work in the office is tricky. There’s no doubt your employees will miss the office. Not just the amenities, but also catching up with their favorite colleagues, spending time in the games room, and attending team lunches.
That’s precisely why your main priority should be to recreate this atmosphere, even when everyone is at a distance. The following are a few quick tips to help you get started:
- Using Slack’s RandomCoffee bot that pairs employees for virtual coffee dates.
- Host virtual game tournaments for your employees. You can allow employees to connect over a video call and hop onto a game like Euchre or Virtual Charades.
- Have a virtual taco or pizza party. You could encourage everyone to order pizza or tacos at home. Or, just join in for a purely social conversation instead of work discussions on Fridays.
- Hold themed photo competitions where employees can share photographs of their kids and pets. You could even use their favorite items in the home offices. This is a great way for employees can get to know each other even better.
While all this can be great fun, you need to make this online sharing of data, videos, or photos – whether for work or fun – safe to prevent data breaches or loss of critical data. Make sure you invest in a good cloud storage service with two-factor authentication, a user-friendly interface, and fast and efficient syncing to store and share data securely, irrespective of its size.
Acknowledge accomplishments and celebrate milestones
Now more than ever, companies around the world are experiencing noticeable drops in revenue and fewer sales. Instead of scaling their business operations, brands are trying to simply stay afloat during the ongoing pandemic.
For this reason, business leaders need to recognize and acknowledge company and employee wins whenever they occur. Each small milestone met or birthday celebrated can help keep your team feeling positive and cared about by their company.
Try to share business-related wins with your teams as frequently as possible – both big and small. That could be a new sale, winning a new client, a special story or comment from a valuable customer, or a new partnership. Celebrate all accomplishments. As a result, your employee morale will remain high, and any negative thoughts or doubts erased.
Your team members need to know there are still opportunities available, and success hasn’t become a foreign concept during this crisis.
Another advantage of sharing employee wins with the team is that, in addition to boosting morale, it can also make people feel more connected with their colleagues despite being physically distant.
High employee morale goes beyond the coronavirus pandemic
We aren’t going to sugarcoat it: Maintaining high employee morale will be a challenging task. This is especially true when you consider the current circumstances.
However, it isn’t impossible.
By making minor changes and tweaks like increasing flexibility, ensuring stronger communication, and providing unrestricted access to resources will ensure your employees that you actually care. Additionally, you can try strategizing your business approach in real-time with all the team members to make them feel valued and a part of the brand.
Once the crisis concludes, your company will be in a better position to retain talent and smoothly hire new employees. Having a reputation for a positive and supportive work culture will ultimately boost your employer brand and guarantee long-term success.