The year 2020 has seen companies embrace the concept of ‘work from home’ in a massive way. Usually attributed to freelancers or occasionally granted to office goers, ‘working from home’ has now become a way of life for many amidst the COVID-19 lockdown. Digitalization has been gradually seeping into the workplace. However, the onset of the coronavirus has thrust us into an unprecedented reality of virtual workplaces and remote working.
The lockdown will eventually end but this new reality is here to stay. It is redefining the way we work, interact with our colleagues, and carry out our business tasks.
There is also a clear shift in the way companies are warming up to this change. Organizations that were once reluctant to let their employees work remotely are now seeing the benefits of this. With travel time eliminated and more flexibility, both companies and employees are witnessing greater efficiencies in this set up. Having said that, leaders must be mindful that the human connect is not compromised as a result of this transition into a new normal.
- Stay connected: We constantly communicate with our colleagues at our workplace. However, in a virtual set up, we may end up working in silos. This is where leaders must step up and ensure regular communication with their teams. This can be done through virtual morning meetings or wrap up sessions in the evening, even when it might seem like it can be postponed to another day. This will ensure that your colleagues are connected, and up to date with every aspect of their work. Not only will this bring a lot of transparency within teams, but also leave any ambiguity or uncertainty behind.
- Socialize virtually: Breaks are part of a usual day at work. Employees utilize these breaks to refresh, refuel and bond with their colleagues beyond shoptalk. Leaders can organize informal virtual huddles where team members can catch up with each other, share their daily experiences, discuss hobbies they are pursuing, or even bond over an online game. These huddles give employees a sense of belonging to a larger team beyond work, and not feel isolated or cut off. Some organizations are even enabling employee bonding and socialization through internal social networking apps, throwing interesting challenges and organizing virtual happy hours.
- Continue a culture of learning: Learning must never stop in a virtual world. In fact, organizations are using this downtime to upskill their employees virtually. Companies have taken to social media and web-interfaces to curate masterclasses, panel discussions and Q&A sessions to provide an impetus to the all-round growth of employees. Leaders can conduct short and practical training capsules for their team members that can be followed up with easy to submit assignments. Employees in turn appreciate this as it heightens motivation and helps them constantly hone their skills.
- Always check-in: Team leads must slot in periodic check-ins with employees. Managers must connect with members to monitor their comfort levels with the workflow, gauge overall wellbeing, address concerns as well as receive feedback. In a larger organization, checking in on each employee becomes a challenge. Here, establishing a buddy system is a great way to create a culture of mutual support.
- Recognition is key: In times of uncertainty, recognition of good work is important to keep up employee morale. During these challenging times, there are many employees who are going the extra mile to deliver successful results or exceptional service. Organizations can recognize such outstanding performances either on virtual town halls or through digital appreciation certificates. Giving employees a platform to share their insights or learning with others can also boost their morale.
It is essential to remember that remote working does not imply social isolation. Humans are social beings. Irrespective of how tech-savvy the workplace gets, it is imperative that leaders always keep the human connect sacrosanct to maintain a healthy work culture amongst employees.