COVID-19 has, to put it mildly, changed everyday life. Regular office norms have taken a hard turn in a direction that many are struggling to navigate. From social distancing to entire offices working remotely, one aspect of office life that is being pushed aside in terms of priorities is company culture. What cannot be ignored is the mental health strain that employees may start to struggle with as they self-quarantine, but we have a few morale boosters that are sure to help maintain the best company culture.
1. Video conference calls.
Human interaction is critical right now especially when some are mentally viewing quarantining the same as isolation. Don’t just speak to employees; make an effort to actually see them using tools such as FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or Zoom. Check-in on them frequently throughout the week, especially if you don’t interact with them normally during the day. Ask them how they’re doing, how their family is doing, and if they can think of anything they may need that could make this transition easier for them. The social butterflies of our office (our sales team and account managers) were practically begging to talk to anybody by day two of our office moving to the remote employee model, some employees even taking to video sessions with one another with no purpose other than to have someone “in the room” with them as they worked.
2. Stay as transparent as possible.
It’s an unfortunate truth that some of us go the route of doom and gloom during these times when so much is still unknown. However, others manage to stay positive and look to the bright side of the situation. Ideally, your company’s leadership is keeping your staff up to date on any new company developments or changes, that include policies, revenue increases or decreases, and adjustments needed in manpower. It is much easier for employees to plan and prepare if they have all the necessary information, and filling everyone in early enough to take action is appreciated on every level.
3. Keep your regularly scheduled programming.
A sense of normalcy is a comfort to most people during trying times and if businesses can assist even a little bit, employees will appreciate the effort. Try to keep as many of your normal routines and schedules as you had prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Make sure employees are ready to work during your regular business hours. If that’s 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., check-in with them at least once in the morning and again before the end of the day. If you have recurring weekly team meetings, keep those on the books and to facilitate those meetings, use group conference calls or video conference calls. Try to provide the tools necessary to maintain business as usual and encourage employees to reduce distractions any way they can during working hours.
4. Create a new work “community” for employees.
When working remotely, employees may feel as if they are forced to temporarily sever relationships they had built in the past such as book clubs, gyms, and meet-up groups.
Why not create a new sense of community within your company to fill in the gaps? Even during work hours, you can help build your company’s culture. Using video chat, you can start a virtual book club by providing the books to employees and using lunch hours to discuss. Put together an exercise regimen and ask a coworker to be your accountability partner. Host online happy hour events or cooking classes using services like Facebook or Instagram live. You can also take the lead on supporting other local businesses to come up with and host online events that you know your employees would be interested in then encouraging your group to participate (group yoga session anyone?).
5. Trust is key.
Managing remote employees is so difficult. You don’t know if everyone is more productive at home or not. You’re not sure if everyone has the ability to effectively communicate when not actually in the same room. The best thing you can do during this time is to instill a level of trust and vulnerability. Your employees need to know that you trust them to be responsible, accountable, and reliable. Convey that message by maintaining the responsibilities each person had before the pandemic hit. Let everyone know that we’re all learning and growing together to navigate through this new normal. Make certain that each person in the community is open to the idea of communicating any struggles they are having with someone else on the team and celebrate all successes and achievements.
Nobody is saying that transitioning into a completely new way of working is easy. But what can be said is that flexibility and adapting is necessary for your company’s success. For businesses to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic they, of course, need to stay above water financially. But also, hopefully, the company’s core values that have been instilled in each employee will see them through to the other side of it all.
For more on establishing a corporate culture and core values, call us at 501-791-9283 and (observing social distancing) let’s talk more about our ideas on a business and marketing framework.