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5 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Company Culture During COVID-19 Work-From-Home Measures

3/24/2020
COVID-19 has rapidly changed the way our daily lives look like and is shaping new business practices for employers and their staff around the world. While having a remote workforce has been common practice for some companies, for many employers, it is a new way of conducting business that comes with its challenges.
 
It is easy for employees to feel isolated and lost when their work routine suddenly changes, and they lose direct access to their colleagues. Under such circumstances, it can also be difficult for employers to maintain a strong company culture. Fortunately, there are tools and best practices that can easily be implemented for employees to feel close to their coworkers.

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Implement Appropriate Tools

Many web-based software and apps now exist to help remote teams collaborate and communicate efficiently. Employers should ensure their staff has access to appropriate tools to foster productivity, team collaboration, and company culture. Some of the most popular apps on the market include:
  • Slack: A team chat app that can be used to brainstorm, ask questions, share files, and compare notes. It can also be used for more casual discussions to talk about anything and let off some steam. Slack uses hashtags to organize and categorize the different discussions.
  • Zoom, Google Hangout, Microsoft Teams, Skype: Employers should make sure their staff has a place where they can make phone or video calls, share screens, send each other documents, and chat, in other words, a virtual conference room.
  • Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, DropBox: Accessing company files while safeguarding cybersecurity is one of the biggest challenges of having a remote workforce. One easy way to safeguard a company’s data while allowing an open flow of information is to set employees up with access to a document repository. Google Drive, OneDrive, and DropBox allow team members to save files, share them with colleagues, and even work on documents simultaneously.
  • Microsoft Project, Trello, Google Tasks, Todoist: Another challenge of having a remote workforce is promoting and controlling productivity. Many companies now offer intuitive apps and software for teams to keep track of their projects and tasks. Employees can set up their “to do” list and assign responsibilities, deadlines, share notes, and update colleagues on their progress. Most tools will also provide reporting features so that employees can share progress status and productivity reports with their managers. Such tools help teams stay organized and focused while ensuring accountability. 

Be Available

Leaders and managers must make themselves available to their team and communicate openly. The executive team should embrace the tools the organization is implementing for the employees and utilize them to keep in touch with their staff. Managers and higher-ups should send regular communication to share updates regarding ongoing measures taken by the organization, reiterate the companies’ goals and priorities, openly share challenges, acknowledge successes, and reassure employees.

Get HR Involved

Management should work with HR to utilize one or some of the collaboration and communication tools to provide a safe place for employees to share their concerns or ideas with their HR department and management. Some ideas include:
  • Set up a new HR email address to receive questions pertaining to the current situation
  • Host a weekly 1-hour Q&A conference call
  • Set up a company-wide chat with a specific hashtag for employees to share team collaboration and motivation ideas

Oganize Virtual Breaks

With the ongoing isolation orders, it may be weeks until employees will be able to enjoy a coffee or lunch break together. Allowing for casual interactions throughout the work week is primordial to nurture the team spirit among employees. Using some of the tools mentioned above, organizations across the world have encouraged their staff to set up weekly virtual breaks to share coffee, lunch or even Happy Hour together and catch up on life. These digital meetups should remain casual, light-hearted, and fun.

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Promote Work/Life Balance

Some employees may find it hard to disconnect from their work device when working from home. A strong work culture usually comes with a healthy work/life balance. Employers should set clear and realistic expectations in terms of productivity and work schedule. With school and childcare services being closed, some members of your staff may now need to juggle work along with homeschooling their children until further notice. Employers should allow these employees to work flexible hours.
For other employees, establishing somewhat of a normal work structure can be helpful to manage anxiety and be more productive. Management can encourage their teams to work during the usual business hours and take coffee and/or lunch breaks as they would if going to the office. This will help shaping their day-to-day schedule and implement a structured routine.
Other original ideas companies have implemented to promote wellness among their remote staff include:
  • Set up company-wide meditation breaks throughout the week. Employees can download guided meditation apps such as Headspace or Calm.
  • While Step Challenges are not recommended under the current “shelter-in-place” mandate, organizations can set up Home Fitness challenges to encourage their employees to move and exercise frequently during the week.
  • Take a Break is an app that can be downloaded on laptops which will set automatic breaks throughout the day to remind employees to take a break from their screen, stand up, drink water, and stretch.