The ongoing COVID-19 crisis continues to cause major interruptions to Australian workplaces and with no promise of an end date in sight, employers are still being forced to follow strict laws relating to health and safety. The pandemic forced quick operational changes and seemingly overnight it created the ‘new normal’ for many employees – working from home.
Many companies made the challenging, yet swift decision to change entire teams and individuals alike to remote working. Doing everything necessary to safeguard their employees’ health and keep their businesses running through unprecedented times. While in the beginning, employers focus was no doubt purely on survival, now several months in, companies are being met with a new decision to make – should we make this arrangement permanent and if so, how do we make it work in everyone’s favour?
While it was an adjustment for everyone overall, there has been some major advantages to working from home, from saving time on commuting, more flexibility, increased productivity, and reduced overheads. But one concern that companies have is how can we maintain team cohesion while separated? It all comes from having the right mindset, structure, and strategies in place to boost communication and maintain the common goal of the company.
Here are some areas focus on that will not only boost productivity and engagement, but will restore renewed energy to your team if it is lacking:
Communication, whether casual chats or work-related discussions, cannot happen as spontaneously as it does when people are sitting next to each other at work. Now is a time when communication should actually be ramped up. Extra interaction is paramount to not only to keep your remote team productively focused, but because the move from the workplace to a home space can take an emotional toll on people when they no longer have the social interaction with colleagues. In turn, when an employer also shows an interest in what their staff do outside of work it helps to build and maintain relationships – it also shows that you care about them as humans, which in turn has a great effect on morale. Meetings and casual check-ins both with the whole team and individual members need to sit at the top of your list. When working remotely, employees need to know that their leaders are still there for them should they have issues and need help. As an extra note, video is always better than voice calls to stay connected. By seeing your body language and facial expressions during team meetings, your staff will feel reassured, more comfortable, and more connected.
When someone notices and appreciates your hard work, it is a great boost for morale, even more so when you are working remotely. Never miss an opportunity to recognise and congratulate your staff when they have been doing a great job.
When working remotely, it can be easy to miss an element of ‘fun’ at work. Social interactions should still be encouraged throughout the day. Most of what you do in the office can be done virtually. Employees should be able to have a chat and take coffee breaks if desired.
When you are no longer surrounded by your team on a daily basis it can be easy to feel slightly detached. To keep team culture at the forefront, you have to remind employees of how their efforts contribute to the bigger picture. It is also important to remain transparent and make sure employees know what is happening, it might be tempting to protect them from bad news, but staff are always better off hearing the good and bad to be prepared.
When working remotely, it can be easy for employees to feel more sluggish in their attitude to work and feel that they are lacking opportunities for career growth. To keep team culture high, create opportunities for your staff to continue to learn and develop. E-learning is a great option that allows employees to engage in training sessions when it works for them and their work schedule. Staff appreciate when their employer values and invests in them.
Whether you are biding your time for restrictions to be lifted to return to the office or making the permanent move to remote working, I hope this has helped you in some way because great things in business are never the result of one person, they are a team effort.