Some businesses are finding the transition to distributed or remote work staff difficult. Apart from the technical challenges that come from working remotely, maintaining an engaged workforce, sustaining what’s likable from your company culture, and making sure your employees are doing OK top the list of concerns among our clients. We borrowed some advice from other companies and here’s what we’ve been doing.
Re-Invent Your Employee Engagement Activities for Video Conference
You probably had a standard cadence for meetings at your company. Scheduled sales meetings, leadership meetings, staff meetings should all continue to happen over remote video conference. At Hot Dog Marketing, our Monday Stand-Up meetings are now down through Zoom and we still do all the fun company announcements, kudos sharing, and celebrations – we just do them online.
We also kept all of our regular professional development activities on the calendar. For lunch-and-learns, we moved them to online, and Hot Dog Marketing provided Door Dash gift cards so everyone could still order lunch. One of our traditions, Final Friday, is a Quarterly Friday at the end of the month for staff to work specifically on creative projects or training. We’ll still do Final Friday and incorporate a virtual breakroom to hang out in with each other (see more on that idea below).
Start or Keep Doing One-on-Ones
When I joined my CEO round table group a couple of years ago, they highly encouraged me to set aside one-on-one time each week with each of my direct reports. I was so overwhelmed with the amount of work I was doing day-to-day that I couldn’t possibly imagine finding the time. Well, I did. Now the whole company does weekly one-on-ones as a required management tactic because it’s extremely effective in relationship building and actively managing expectations and opportunities. Using video conference to keep these going has been crucial. It’s been helpful, from my perspective, in making sure everyone is doing OK during this strange and stressful time.
Provide a Breakroom Online so People Can Hang Out with Each Other
Working from home day-in and day-out can be a real drag for extroverts. This is one of my favorite ideas that came from a friend at a software company. They have a few Zoom accounts set-up to run with no host required. Every day, the change the “theme” of the open Zoom meeting, and employees join to hang out with each other throughout the day or have lunch together. One example is to theme the meeting, Your Favorite Childhood Movie, and everyone who joins the breakroom changes their background to show their favorite movie. This encourages non-work-related conversation and fun during the day.
In the absence of a breakroom, an instant messaging group chat can serve as a replacement for “watercooler” banter. We have a #random Slack Channel that is by far the most popular channel in our Slack now that we’re working from home. It even inspired this clever social media post that took company-wide coordination.
Keep It Fun
I think we’ve all seen the social media posts of people having Zoom or Google Hangout happy hours with each other. If your company does employee events, then move these to online and provide online game licenses for everyone to use instead of food and drinks. Everyone will BYOB, but you can bring the fun.
I think we’ve all experienced a slew of interesting things happen during Zoom conference calls. Another way to keep things interesting is to come up with a company-specific Zoom Bingo game to play during the week. It’ll keep your team engaged on the calls and give them something fun to do along with their work. We’re giving out Door Dash gift cards to Bingo Winners.
Our office manager suggested that we all wear a funny hat during one of our stand-up meetings so I was thrilled to see what people showed up with! Keep it creative, fun, and out of the box and your team will appreciate it.
Rewards and Encouragement
Something I took for granted when we were in-person at the office was being able to say out loud to someone “Good Job.” Small acts of appreciation happened more organically in an office environment when you saw people more frequently. Working remotely forces leaders and managers to see opportunities to reach out to those who are doing a good job and say to them, “Thank you,” or “Keep up the good work.” It’s easy to forget to do positive reinforcement in this situation so you have to make a point to do it.
Don’t forget to celebrate your achievements as a company. Many of our clients are doing well and still thriving in this weird situation so it’s easy to feel shy or dismissive of these accomplishments during this time. And while some of your employees might have personal stresses that you need to be sensitive to, I think you should still find as many excuses to celebrate milestones and accomplishments as a team.
If you’re looking for more resources on how to help you, check out our free library to help with your strategies and marketing plans. For more up-to-date content to help you during this time, check out our new series Zig When They Zag: Resources to encourage a growth mindset in uncertain times.