Employee Engagement in a Work-from-Home Environment – 3 Key Steps
As struggles persist in navigating COVID-19, many companies are wavering on plans to return workforces to their places of business. For some, transition to long-term, work-from-home operations may be smooth sailing. For others, especially those who have historically relied heavily on an “in-office” presence to operate, it can be a highly difficult endeavor. Implementing practices that support productivity is a big part of the equation, but so is supporting employee engagement and wellbeing.
Case in Point – Reengineering Management
Remote work and management companies often go hand in hand. For some, however, the hub of activity and operations rests mostly with in-office staff. Naturally, the health crisis did not consider this and quickly rendered in-office work unsafe and impractical. As one management group transitioned fully to work-from-home operations, they took cues from the corporate world on how to approach it. It quickly became apparent that a comprehensive and long-term view of remote work solutions needed to be adopted for the specific needs of their workers. Below are three key steps taken that other organizations can follow.
- Create a Communications Plan and Follow It
For some, communications plans are simply unwritten norms and expectations about employee communications that are often reactive. Because this firm was undergoing such a stark change, it was important for them to formalize an internal communication plan that ensured up-to-date information, who to go to with questions, and alignment around what to expect. Included in the plan were narrower communication forums such as a higher frequency of department-specific calls, web meetings, and all staff email communications to ensure that all staff felt fully supported.
- Place Deliberate Focus on Employee Engagement and Wellness
As with communications, employee engagement should not be expected to happen organically. The ultimate goal of this firm’s employee engagement strategy was to keep people connected, inspired, and protected from feelings of isolation. Their strategies included everything from small, budget-conscious communications tools to foundational company-wide changes.
For starters, the company increased use of their internal communication and collaboration platform. This tool was sparsely adopted already but not being used anywhere close to its full potential. Additions included virtual water cooler chats and the establishment of non-work-related chat pages where employee posts featured everything from pet photos to favorite recipes. These pages created immediate feelings of inclusivity and community.
Similarly, the company added a Wellness Day, a new, paid company holiday. This was established to further demonstrate the firm’s value for employee wellness and encouraged employees to use it for something that would directly benefit their overall health and wellbeing, which included a mandatory no-work policy for this day. Staff members are encouraged to post Wellness Day pictures and updates on the company’s new chat channels of their ‘Wellness Day’ and entered into a raffle as a reward for participation.
- Measure the Impact of Efforts
For this organization, surveys proved to be an invaluable tool throughout the process. Some focused more on aspects of daily work, asking things like “Do you have everything you need to work from home?,” while others centered on overall wellbeing, with questions such as “Would you be comfortable returning to the office?” and “Do you feel connected to your teammates at this time?” Responses to these anonymous surveys helped leaders make informed, quality decisions and pivot where needed.
Change for the Better
Changes of this magnitude that dramatically alter business operations understandably produce anxiety for many leaders and organizations. Change can often be difficult to embrace, but the exploration and acceptance of new ideas can lead to positive breakthroughs and unanticipated successes.
In this instance, the company experienced effective engagement, increased productivity, and higher levels of trust across their now-remote staff. These accomplishments have solidified team bonds, proven staff capability, and strengthened the company’s culture.
Need help implementing effective remote work strategies and keeping employees engaged? Request a free consultation from a vcfo expert who can help.