Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, companies across the globe are struggling to keep their business running. With most countries going on lockdowns, remote work is on the rise. Work from home has always been a practise by most corporates to give flexibility to the employees, when need be. However, this sudden increase, with the entire workforce working remotely, is certainly unprecedented for companies all over the world.
The shift to remote working
As we witness this shift from physical working space to remote working, the nine to six work culture also tends to lose its importance. The employers are focussing more on ensuring productivity, rather than prolonged working hours.
The end to this global health emergency cannot be definitively predicted, and as such, the practice of working from home is here to stay. As the entire workforce is spread out, companies are struggling to quickly adapt to the challenges of ensuring employee productivity and maintaining a strong company culture.
Here are some suggested practices that can be adopted to develop company culture amongst your remote workforces and boost productivity:
Review and set working hours
Flexibility in working hours is seen as an important perk of working from home. However, teamwork requires collaboration and open lines of communication and thus, it’s important that all team members be available at the same time.
Do Daily Morning Meetings to kick-start the day
A morning meeting every day can act as a powerful tool for your team to regroup, collaborate and prepare for the day. It shall help follow up on the previous day’s task, discuss pending work, fix minor issues and set new targets and timelines.
Use Task Management Tools
When working with remote workforces on large projects, the key step is to ensure you don’t waste time on little things like assigning tasks or following up and coordinating on assigned tasks.
A task management tool also known as a project collaboration tool can be a powerful tool for project managers and team heads to assign responsibility, set time lines, track progress, visualize allotted work and who can take on more work.
Have frequent digital face-to-face meetings
Working remotely can make employees feel isolated and disconnected. Encouraging frequent online meetings, video or audio calls, will help people feel in touch with their team and the work they do together.
Use a Communication Tool for all team interactions
Just like at the office, one of the most important things is to have a way for everyone to submit work, get approvals and receive feedback. Long email chains are not the place for this. Instead, it’s best suggested to use a single communication tool such as slack, flowdock, zoho, etc.
Using such communication tools, separate channels can be created for every project, client, topic or team. This ensures transparency and simplifies team communications. Such tools also create an easy searchable archive of team conversations, decisions taken, files shared, etc; which employees keep up-to-date with all information as and when needed. All the communications over such channels should be in compliance with the PoSH policy of the company.
Organise online extracurricular activities
When the workforce is spread out, it’s easy for the employees to lose a sense of togetherness. Organising few extracurricular activities can boost social interaction and engagement. Here are few suggestions:
- Having an online gaming session;
- Build a book club and plan weekly discussions on the employees’ favourite books;
- Encourage team members to create fun little videos of their workspaces.
Create a virtual Cafeteria
Going to the cafeteria, taking coffee breaks and having usual water cooler conversations can be refreshing and are considered vital for maximizing productivity and having a fruitful day. As employees start to work from home, it’s important to prevent burnout and boost camaraderie.
Online channels can be created on your communication tool, where employees can discuss their interests, hobbies, schedule coffee breaks with one another via video calls, etc. Virtual coffee breaks via video calls amongst teammates or people working on same projects can be scheduled to help them discover connections.
Ensure health & safety of your workplace
Even though working in a digital space, it’s important to reinforce the values which are foundational to an actual workplace. An office – no matter it’s physical presence – cannot function without its inhabitants upholding the principles of transparency, accountability and loyalty. The Human Resource departments can send emails, newsletters, e learning modules; to inhibit best practices amongst employees embracing values of honesty, integrity and respect amongst each other.
Managing remote workforces is not an easy feat, especially since the employees are so accustomed to their usual schedules. Being social animals, we thrive in like-minded, similar goal-oriented communities. When removed from the company of such beings in such a surrounding, it is understandable that it may take a beat or two for your workforce to get in sync in an online work environment. At this stage, it is important to provide them with ample support and help them by way of virtual collaborative solutions. A strong company culture providing a supporting and nurturing work environment remains the key in ensuring employee productivity even when working from home.