With so many employees working from home right now due to COVID-19 shelter-in-place requirements, it’s more important than ever to stay in contact, not just professionally, but also personally. At this point in the pandemic, the new normal calls for some new measures to ensure you stay connected to your remote team. Staying connected not only drives your business forward during these trying times, but it also goes a long way to improve employee morale. And keeping your employees engaged is a critical component to a thriving business.
When we’re all working together in an office, it’s easy to take a quick chat between tasks for granted. A passing mention of a child’s birthday or craft project waiting at home feels a lot more natural in person than it does on Slack or in an email.
Not only do those quick chats make you feel connected at work, but they also sometimes trigger a reminder to tell your teammate what you’re working on with a client you share. And when we’re at home plugging away, some of those side conversations might be forgotten.
So what are some of the best ways to keep up with your team, share important work information, and also stay personally connected during this time of uncertainty and distance?
Standups All Around
It’s standard practice for software engineers to check in every day with a standup meeting. During those short 10-15 minute meetings, engineers share what they’re working on, the progress they’ve made, and where they plan to go next.
Why not extend that practice to every team in your company? It’s a good idea to have some sort of daily check-in with your remote team, not because you’re worried they’re not working, but to remind them that you’re here for them, that you’re available for questions and clarity, and that you haven’t forgotten about them.
Employee engagement is as much about a sense of security and being informed as it is about productivity. In fact, access to information in a changing landscape and a sense of security are linked quite directly to engagement and productivity.
Take a few minutes every morning to get on a group Zoom meeting for a standup. Here at OneLogin, we do a daily standup meeting in the marketing department to keep the team connected. Everyday we have a different theme—from talking about a blocker that came up last week, to sharing your favorite work-from-home guilty pleasure, to morning trivia, our stand-ups give the team a morning jumpstart.
Start a New Slack Channel
Slack is a great place to house a channel for funny memes, photos of pets and kids, or some other fun personal expressions like sharing a new hobby. Work culture differs from company to company, and while some industries are more formal than others, now’s the time to let some formality go in favor of more personal interaction with your coworkers.
Sharing memes gives your team a break from the grind to laugh. Sharing photos of pets, kids, or funny animal videos can provide some levity during a pretty heavy time in history. And since we’re all home with a bit of extra time on our hands, some of your team members may have started a new hobby. Started painting? Picked up the ukulele? Joined the masses in the great sourdough bread baking revolution? Why not share what you’re working on?
Another channel you might consider is a channel where employees can post and discuss some of the challenges that they might be dealing with due to the move to remote work. At OneLogin, we have a specific channel where people post helpful articles, share tips, exchange photos, and sometimes just plain vent, if needed.
Some teams already have these non-work channels, but if you haven’t created a place like this for non-work-related connections, it’s a good idea to consider.
Host a Virtual Happy Hour
It’s likely you’ve met your friends or family for a Zoom call during the shelter-in-place order to stay connected. Why not plan a happy hour for your team in the same way?
You can keep it simple and just set up a date and time for people to meet up on their couches with a cold beverage, or you could get more elaborate and create a signature cocktail that everyone can enjoy together on the call.
You might even consider hosting a group activity that everyone can participate in at home. Share a fun recipe and jump on Zoom so everyone can cook or bake together as a group. Use the time to let your hair down with your coworkers and connect on a personal level. If you are the team leader you can even consider subsidising the happy hour by sending your employees an Uber Eat card that they can use to get food and drinks.
People want to see each other’s faces, hear each other’s voices, and reach for as much normalcy as much as possible during these uncertain times.
Have Another Town Hall
Town Halls are incredibly important during uncertain times. Maybe you had a Town Hall at the start of the work from home order, but it’s been weeks since offices closed their doors, and it might be time for another one. As we mentioned before, feeling informed and empowered can dramatically impact employee engagement, and since we’re all working from home, engagement is more important than ever.
Chances are, some pretty big changes have either happened already or are coming around the bend for your business. While it might not be possible to give every employee the play-by-play of what’s to come, giving them as much information as possible will help set their minds at ease in the midst of a lot of personal and professional uncertainty.
A simple team update in the form of a Town Hall can mean a lot to remote workers who may otherwise not have all the information they need. In the absence of information, it’s tempting to fill the void with doomsday scenarios. Relieve your team of that burden by sharing as much as you can.
Find New Avenues for Collaboration
Group work might not have been your team’s favorite activity six months ago, but the circumstances have changed. If your business allows for it, encourage your team to collaborate on a group project and spend more virtual time together. Group work can break up the monotony of staring at a screen alone all day. Some ideas we have considered are a virtual Shark Tank competition and a virtual hackathon.
Just a Zoom Away
With a huge percentage of the country working from home right now, we have to get creative to keep our teams engaged and connected. No matter your industry, with all the changes that have happened in the last month, each member of your team is likely experiencing some feelings of insecurity, uncertainty, and loneliness.
Use the tips we’ve provided to help alleviate some of those feelings through virtual connection. Standups, sharing funny memes or new hobbies, virtual happy hours, town halls, and new avenues for collaboration are all ways you can keep your remote teams connected as we work our way through these unprecedented times.