As we move into month 5 of the pandemic and working remotely, the challenges we face as organizations continue to mount. One of those challenges is maintaining morale under the growing stress of working remotely.
Even for the most seasoned introvert, this isolation is tough. We’re all used to working in close physical proximity, and the colleague deprivation is real. Our own Gary Frey captured this sentiment in a recent Instagram post. Even with today’s amazing video conferencing technology, it’s easy to feel disconnected and insecure -- especially as time drags on.
Morale is a crucial ingredient in a company's culture, as is communication. Keeping both afloat is fundamental for creating an environment where productivity can flourish, but it’s a real challenge in this environment.
We don’t claim to do it perfectly, but we’re trying. Here are five suggestions from the BGW team for maintaining morale during remote work:
- Avail yourself of every platform that allows you to actually see one another.
Yes, your desk is a mess and you are still in a t-shirt from your morning workout, but get in front of the camera anyway. We need to see each other smiling and making eye contact, and we need to be able to “read the room”. So much of communication is non-verbal. Don’t fall back on phone conferencing that makes that impossible.
- Make time for small talk.
Remember how meetings used to start? Staff would file into the conference room chatting and making small talk, reconnecting, smiling, talking about daily stressors and successes. That was all part of team-building, of building a sense of community and family within your organization. Make sure you’re doing it on the virtual platforms, too.
Don’t be so eager to get to the point of the meeting. Let the team have some time to converse. Connected teams are more productive anyway.
Did you have an open-door policy before? Then offer “drop-in times” on a virtual platform where staff can come and chat with you. Maintaining previous office norms is crucial to feelings of security.
- Roll with it.
Doorbells ring, dogs bark, babies cry, internet connections become unstable. The virtual meeting space is full of distractions. Acknowledge it, and roll with it. A "things are different but we're in this together and making progress" attitude is an important message to deliver to your team, so live it with sincerity.
- Acknowledge the good -- a lot.
Take the time to personally appreciate the work of individuals and publicly recognize a job well done as often as you can. For staff, there is nothing that affirms their value more than being recognized by their managers and their colleagues.
- Have fun.
Bingo, trivia, charades: These are just a few of the games we’ve played as a team remotely. Again, having fun is part of what we normally do. Replicating those office norms is important to maintaining cohesiveness.
Looking for more ideas? This list provides some unique options to build culture and increase employee engagement.
Let’s face it: This virus isn’t going anywhere. Even if it did, remote work is here to stay. Let’s continue to build our teams in fun, engaging, meaningful ways as we navigate the “new normal”. Our companies literally depend on it.
Interested in learning how to effectively onboard an employee during these times? Check back next week as we’ll cover that topic, too.