The threat of coronavirus is forcing companies to let employees work from home. While highly sensible advice to help contain the spread of the virus and safeguard employees’ health, the transition to remote working will challenge work cultures and could lead to people feeling isolated from the camaraderie among colleagues.
How can companies safeguard their culture and the wellbeing of their workforce during these unpredictable, difficult times? How can they preserve the very thing that attracted their staff and made them productive employees when they can’t all be in one room together to collaborate, create and converse?
Pietro Carmignani, CEO for UK, IE & Netherlands at Gympass, the world’s largest corporate fitness platform, shares this advice to help nurture and retain company culture among a home-based workforce.
Pay more attention to how you’re using tech
Tech will really come into its own to keep us in touch with each other. Choose a video conferencing service that is seamless, reliable and easy for everyone to use, such as Zoom. Question whether email is the best solution for corresponding or whether teams should transition to instant-messaging type solutions, such as Slack. If used correctly, these tools can be great for speeding up lines of communication, collaborative working and sharing of documents.
Dial into meetings
Being ‘stuck in a meeting’ is an all-too-common scenario at work and many are unproductive with no clear agenda or outputs. When we transition to working from home, we have to think harder about whether a meeting is necessary. If you really do need to get together through remote means, dialling into a video meeting from various locations on tech that works could be your solution. Make sure that every meeting has a clear purpose and agenda before going into it and choose someone to lead it to avoid people talking over each other or interrupting.
Pick up the phone
Problems or concerns in the office are usually best addressed in a quick face-to-face conversation. With your colleagues working from home, any problems should be dealt with by phone, not email. Written words can take on new meanings and phrasing or poor grammar can be a deadly weapon if they change the sentiment of a sentence. Online communication can feel more tense when you lose the ability to gauge how someone is feeling as you would when you can see them in person. If something needs to be resolved, pick up the phone and have a conversation in real time. Apart from minimising the risk of misunderstandings, it keeps a personal touch which people may be missing if working from home.
Keep a routine
It can be easy to start your working day at home from the moment you wake up to the moment you eat your evening meal – but these exaggerated hours can result in feeling burnt out and losing productivity. People should be encouraged to not only work their usual hours, but take proper screen breaks away from the computer, take a lunch break, get up from their desk (or sofa) and walk around their home a little or take a brief walk around the block (unless they are self-isolating). Managers and directors should lead by example and not send or reply to emails outside of normal work hours unless it’s absolutely essential.
It’s still important to shout out any company wins and congratulate people on successes as you would do in the office. If someone wins a sale, delivers an amazing piece of work or receives positive client feedback, share it with the wider company electronically. Anything that you would celebrate in the office can and should be celebrated online to maintain excitement and camaraderie.
Despite the change of routine, it’s important to keep healthy and happy by eating well and finding time to exercise. This will help you stay motivated, clear-headed and, ultimately, more productive.
At Gympass, physical activity is a big part of our company culture and this remains true even when we cannot be together to workout. If your colleagues can’t travel to their favourite exercise class, encourage them to explore what can be done in their front room or garden. There is a wealth of exercise programmes available on the internet and social media: maintaining this physical activity will have a profound impact on people’s working day and productivity.
Managers and supervisors should lead by example by letting staff know they are doing home workouts, sharing ideas and links to online exercise and approving colleagues to take time out of their day to do the same. Gympass is actively supporting its clients and partners to help them with online options and additional guidance.