As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, companies of all sizes have turned to the virtual world in order to continue operating, creating the world’s largest work from home experiment. Under the fast-changing impact of current events, it’s more crucial than ever to maintain a strong work culture and keep remote employees happy and engaged. Happy employees tend to be more motivated, productive and creative – contributing positively to your company’s bottom line. Below, find some strategies your organization can start implementing today to create a comfortable work environment for all employees, regardless of their location.
Companies with highly effective communication practices enjoy 47% higher total returns to shareholders compared to organizations with poor communication. Not only that, but for organizations whose workforce is dispersed, strong internal communication strategies are critical to their success – they help increase employee engagement, strengthen teams and improve efficiencies.
To strengthen your internal communication strategies, you should first determine what you want to communicate and why. Analyze your company’s current situation by identifying what your employees need to hear. While it’s important to implement proactive and frequent check-in’s you should ensure they are worth while and beneficial. Similar to how you plan to communicate with your customers, you must think of your employees as your internal customers. Create exceptional employee experiences at every opportunity for communication, because internal communication builds employee engagement, culture and trust.
Assess the channels you’re using to communicate with employees and which are driving the most engagement (email, chat, phone etc.). Consider how your employees prefer to receive information and where you get the best response. Perhaps a chat platform allows employees to talk more freely and generates a quicker response. Popular chat platforms include Slack, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts.
Once you determine the best way to communicate with employees, make collaboration efficient and fun and avoid information overload. Try focusing on sending the right information to the right people at the right time, versus all the information to all the people, all the time.
For instance, utilize the poll function on Slack to check in with employees or send a pulse survey to get employee feedback and share ideas. Hearing from your employees about what the company is doing well and where you can improve will show that their thoughts are valued and can help you make better decisions on where to focus your efforts. Ensure remote employees have the right tools to contribute, because without adequate wifi, access to shared networks, or reliable communication platforms, employees are unable to work efficiently and productivity is diminished.
Teams that are working remotely for indefinite periods of time may struggle with newly reduced access to support and communication. Under this abrupt shift, it is crucial to acknowledge stress and empathize with emotional support. Consider establishing periodic check-ins, either daily or every other day through one-on-one phone calls or a team call. Having a scheduled call lets employees know that communication is maintained regularly and that they can have their concerns addressed. Throughout the day, or for more quick and casual check-ins, send a short Slack message.
Get a feel for employee sentiment by turning the focus of the conversation on the individual and asking “how does this remote work make you feel?” Often, employees will look to their managers for cues as to how to react. If a manager repeatedly communicates their feelings of stress, a trickle-down effect can occur within the employee base. If possible, try a two-step approach by acknowledging the difficult circumstances while also affirming your confidence that teams can work together and utilize everyone’s strengths at this time. Build trust by framing progress inquiries as a way to help employees achieve their goals rather than checking in on their numbers.
Face-to-face time, coffee breaks, and cocktail hours don’t have to be forgone under a work from home scenario. Replicate a fun workplace culture by encouraging virtual breaks via video calls for small breaks throughout the day. Using video conferencing technology, such as the platforms mentioned above, employees can step away from projects and chat with one another virtually, creating a more well-rounded work environment. If your organization uses Slack, consider designating a “fun” channel where employees can get together and chat over non-work-related matters. An avenue created expressly for leisure and socialization helps to communicate to employees that your organization is committed to promoting work-life balance under a stressful time.