For months, a majority of employees have been stuck sitting at a desk working eight hours a day—or more—with no social interactions other than speaking to household members, grocery store workers at the checkout line, and virtual conferences over the internet. People crave social interaction, and that’s something people are not physically getting these days.
While many businesses will be getting back to normal work as states start transitioning out of social distancing, there is a new normal on the horizon for others. Some companies, like Twitter, have stated that they are giving their employees the option to work from home forever. Although that may seem nice to implement into your business, are you ready for the virtual environment to stay? More importantly, are your employees ready for that after experiencing the distance COVID-19 has put between us all? If your company is taking Twitter’s route, it’s important to consider how to properly handle a healthy virtual work environment for your employees.
A Healthy Mindset: Tips for Increasing Employee Morale
Not only are your employees working full-time, but they are also full-time parents, teachers, chefs, etc. throughout the pandemic. Separating your home life from work life has never been more difficult. For those who haven’t experienced a remote work atmosphere until COVID-19, this can put a damper on the employee's everyday life.
From trying to get a child to focus on distance learning, locating high-demand products at the grocery store or constantly worrying about family members' health, COVID-19 has affected how employees focus on work at home. Each situation is unique, but all employees need flexibility in uncertain times. How can business leaders create a psychologically safe workplace while in a virtual setting?
Promote computer breaks, and breaks in general
Studies have shown that five minutes of every hour distant from your screen can improve your productivity and quality of work, attention levels and the speed you work at. This can be a chance to take a walk around the block, and if weather or location limits that, walk around the house. Stand up and stretch, walk in place at your desk—without looking at the computer screen.
Become an interactive team
A virtual work environment is difficult, however, this is also an opportunity to connect with your team members like never before. Team bonding builds trust and makes communication simple while becoming closer as a team. People have been discovering creative ways to connect on a virtual level with their team during the pandemic. Virtual happy hours and digital lunches have become weekly calendar items for many teams and are some of the best ‘meetings’ to look forward to for the week ahead. Successful bonding activities create a more comfortable and successful workplace environment. This article lists 50+ unique virtual activities for any person looking for a fresh, new idea to try with their virtual team.
Check up on your employees regularly
In a year of uncertainties, people crave stability. That said, establishing regular check-ins with your employees is critical. Managers need to acknowledge stress, listen to employees' anxieties and concerns, and empathize with their struggles. If a newly remote employee is clearly struggling but not communicating stress or anxiety, ask them how they’re doing.
Effective communication company-wide
It is an essential leadership skill to communicate effectively through uncertainty, regardless of whether it is a formal leadership role or not. Crises lead to confusion, misunderstandings, assumptions, rumors, and worries without an adequate crisis communication plan in place. It is simple—employees want to know what is going on in the company.
Since everyone is virtual, the only access you have for communicating with your peers is through technology. Virtual meetings have become a part of everyday life and can be utilized to host company-wide meetings to share information with employees. Not only is it a fast and efficient way to spread information, it enables a more personal connection. Microsoft Teams has been an efficient way to communicate at Rightpoint and we have even shared best practices for those new to Teams.
What the Future Holds for Experiences
Being as flexible and transparent as possible has never been more important in the workforce. Some leaders may not have a definitive answer about the future of the company, but the worst thing to do is to say nothing. Provide as much transparency as possible to employees because without any communication, people naturally assume the worst. Overlooking the importance of communicating with employees can lead to confused and worried employees. Here at Rightpoint, our CEO Ross Freedman brings everyone together once a week for a virtual town hall which is intended to share proactive updates, celebrate wins and allow us to stay connected.
Better employee experiences can boost productivity, reduce friction, and improve overall company health. For more guidance on how to handle a virtual work environment for employees, dive into the seven tenets for effective, meaningful collaboration across dispersed teams.