You miss the days when you could play bubble soccer with your teammates (if you haven't played, I highly recommend it for a good laugh), enjoy an in-person happy hour, or an offsite lunch where you and team members can get to know each other and chat about topics other than work. Afraid those days behind us for good?
They don't have to be; many companies have found effective ways to adapt to working from home.
If your best efforts are Zoom happy hours and more frequent standups, there is plenty of room for improvement. Communication, recognition, teambuilding, and satisfaction in your employee's work could go out the door if you're not careful. So, what successes have we seen thus far?
Here are a few ideas your team might love:
Ask a daily question that requires more than a yes or no answer where people can see it in a public forum, like Slack or MS Teams. This will allow people to showcase their personalities and talk about things other than work! At Assembly, we've developed a "#tellmesomethinggood” channel in Slack to facilitate this conversation.
Host bi-weekly socially distanced outdoor activities such as lunch in the park, group hikes, or if you and your team feel really adventurous – rent bicycles and tour your city or suburb with Spinlister! It's unique and memorable for team building ...and so fun!
Make sure employees can feel recognized for their hard work. Without the ability for managers or fellow peers to pat each other on the back after an accomplishment, big or small, and unless you have an easy way to recognize one another, you can bet that recognition goes by the wayside. Companies like Assembly are key to boosting morale and engagement and surfacing all the little wins for the whole company to both see and celebrate!
Don't solely rely on email or chat applications for intracompany questions. Emotions, sentiment, facial expressions, and body language can be totally lost over chat. When you can, get on a facetime and see the person you're talking to. Not only is it more efficient, but it brings the social element back into the virtual world and more closely mimics office life.
Give back to your employees! Offer them half-day Fridays or one additional day off each month (whatever makes sense for your organization). We've all felt burnout as staying home makes it too easy to work in bed, in the kitchen, and we've heard many people referring to "work from home" as "live at work." Communicate to your employees that you know they are working hard, that these are challenging times, and that the company is there to support them and get them through it!
Trivia games are always fun (alcoholic or non-alcoholic). It's slightly corny/cliche, and you won't get full participation, but enough people need simple, amusing connections that you might be surprised. It's not about finding things that get 100% participation. It's about finding a diverse set of activities that, in aggregate, get as close to 100% participation.
Start a cooking channel on your chat application of choice —showcase everyone's cooking, run competitions, and offer real rewards that encourage participation.
Whatever you do, the key is to make sure your employees know you understand these are different and difficult times and that you care. Make them feel appreciated and let them know their hard work is noticed.
Communicate often and ask questions. Mental health is more important than ever, and lowered morale can significantly impact your company's output and, thus, outcomes. According to the CDC, NCHS, and the Census Bureau, anxiety and depression are skyrocketing with the pandemic. Be there for your employees, support them, and encourage your company to act as a community!
Treat your employees well, and they will treat your organization well and you will see improved outcomes quickly; good luck!