As we all seek to flatten the COVID-19 curve, businesses around the world have adapted by mandating remote working. But while working from home can boost productivity gains, it does lag in certain areas, namely engagement and culture. Here’s how your company can keep your employees engaged and feeling part of a team when there’s no water cooler to gather around.
Get Up and Running on Slack
Staying in touch is a key component of your company culture. Launch a Slack channel for your company, with additional ones for off-topic banter, pictures of pets, and other zaniness that will keep employees motivated and connected during these challenging times. You can even take a leaf out of ad agency Huge’s book, which has turned its traditional lunchtime run into a virtual event: employees are encouraged to snap photos of their neighborhoods as they go for a solo jog. If Slack isn’t your thing, Google Hangouts or Microsoft Teams are good options.
Say Cheers With a Quarantini
After-work drinks are a long-held office tradition for encouraging workplace camaraderie and belonging. With today’s social distancing requirements – and the closure of most bars – companies are taking a creative approach to buying the team a round. Happy hour video chats over Zoom or Facebook Live are the new watering hole, with employees checking in at the end of the workday for some cheers and banter. Some companies are holding themed happy hour events, while others like Steyer Content have added a karaoke component. For other companies, employee-created playlists, signature drinks and games are also on the menu.
Get Moving Together
Hitting the on-site gym on your lunch break or meeting up for a game of post-work basketball or soccer is no longer on the agenda. But at-home fitness is experiencing a boom as employees download apps and get moving along to on-line workouts. Some companies are sweating it out with bodyweight workouts, while others like ad agency Havas New York are working through guided meditations together. If employees prefer to keep their fitness off camera, offer ways for them to check in or share their achievements. A slack channel or email thread can be great for this.
Show off Those Home Offices
Everyone loves kids, pets, and great decor. Thanks to work-from-home life, all of these things are at your employees’ fingertips (or underfoot). Invite employees to share pictures and videos of their temporary office environments. This will help build relationships while also giving everyone a window into the current working arrangements of each team member, creating empathy for those juggling multiple responsibilities. Start a chat channel or hashtag for your newly expanded office pet family, or brainstorm ways to link employees’ at-home situations with their day-to-day work. Australian publishing company Text has been showing off the bookshelves of its employees; meanwhile editors at other companies are using Instagram or Twitter to give a blow-by-blow account of their usual working day.
Share Some Culture
Entertainment and culture have seen a huge increase in consumption in recent weeks. Encourage employees to share their recent reads, their favorite playlists, top games, or some of the more interesting things they’ve stumbled across online. You’ll end up with some vibrant discussion that not only brings your employees together but that gives you insight into your team, their passions, and their interests. If your company has the funds, consider chipping in for materials or subscriptions.
There’s no substitute for face-to-face working, but work-from-home life can still reflect the community and ethos of your business. Focus on communication and the human side of your brand, and you’ll be able to keep your employees engaged while extending your company culture.