Many businesses have been able to successfully navigate this lockdown period.
The disappointing news about the largest drop in UK GDP since records began was worrying news for some businesses on Friday. For others though, it was largely irrelevant. Many businesses have been able to successfully navigate this lockdown period, some even thriving. As the economy opens up, it’s those companies that have been able to keep things running as normally as possible that will be in a position to hit the ground running.
For HR teams, getting your staff well prepared in advance of people returning to work (however that many look) is a key focus right now. Allowing people to continue to work remotely will save an average employee between 40-60 hours per month of commuting time. As we evaluate the new “working normal”, we had a look at some great ideas from innovative companies around the world that have both been able to maintain productivity and get ‘re-start ready’.
Keep social interactions happening.
The ‘watercooler’ chat that is often overlooked in workplaces is where some of the most interesting collaborations and ideas are born. We now need to force and instigate these interactions in a digital world. Some ideas that might help make this happen:
Daily elevensies – why not open up Zoom for a non-work chat every day? Even if it’s 15 minutes, get the team connected and interacting daily will keep those touch points alive.
Quizzes and games – everybody loves a good quiz don’t they? With people not able to go out after work for drinks or any of the other after hours socials, using online games such as Kahoot are a great way to continue to socialise.
Breakout sessions in Zoom to allow smaller meet ups within a larger meeting. Often after full team meetings on Zoom to give team updates, you can allocate staff into groups to catch up with each other. Learn more about Zoom Breakout Rooms here.
Offices are diverse environments with differing personalities. Not only that, you’ll have team members that are new and others that have been with the company a long time. Consider a “buddy scheme” – giving people someone they can turn to for help, advice, support or just a chat.
Keep regular management processes running.
With teams working remotely, and staff having to take on more responsibility with reduced teams, management processes can be the first to be put aside. It is essential for productivity that as much as possible is kept the same. This includes regular scheduled 1-2-1s, team meetings, inter-departmental meetings and so on.
There is a real focus on the need to over-communicate with remote teams. Some staff may be furloughed whilst others are still working, and letting everyone know where they stand as well as any company updates are crucially important. One of the biggest causes of stress is uncertainty about the future, a problem easily solved with regular and thorough updates.
Offer ‘flexible’ remote working.
As employees adapt to a new working environment, perhaps a home office or, more likely for many, the dining room table – there are the added complications of family, kids and other distractions to contend with. Employees will still want to add value, but we need to change our expectations on how they do that.
An employee might find that 9am to 2pm for example is highly unproductive, whilst kids are craving attention or home schooling interferes. 6pm onwards though might be hugely productive. Allow people to add more flexibility into their schedule, if they are night owls or early birds, play to their strengths. A great start point is to simply ask your team how they feel they can add the most value.
Conduct regular well-being surveys.
If in doubt, ask, right? If you have a large workforce, getting individual time with everyone regularly can be hard. Using online tools such as Survey Monkey or Smart Survey (or even Google Forms) and the like has two big advantages.
Firstly, it allows you to capture feedback at scale. You can then collate responses, understand what your staff need and act on it. Having the data in a digital format makes it easier to look for common recurring themes. Often you might not be able to address an employee’s concerns – but knowing and explaining why can also go a long way.
Secondly, by using the same questions in each survey, you can benchmark your progress and make sure things are getting better, not worse. A framework like the Gallup Q12 is a great starting point for employee engagement in a regular comparable format.
Promote physical and mental well-being.
The current crisis has prompted more discussion around mental health. With exercise being one of the only ways of getting outside in the early part of lockdown, we’ve seen parks busier than ever. The saying “healthy body, healthy mind” rings true – so companies have taken it upon themselves to promote both physical and mental wellbeing. Here are some ideas that you might want to consider:
– Send your team exercise workouts, videos and partner with online fitness providers for group courses. Many personal trainers aren’t able to work with gyms shut down, but the online teaching opportunity is increased, again using Zoom. Some of the more popular ones can be found here.
– Signpost mental health support services that exist so that anyone who does want additional support knows where to go. A great list can be found here.
– Anonymous support lines and access to Directors and Managers is vital. Making sure that all of your team know they have access to senior management can help reinforce trust and confidence as well as relieve stress.
Give people the tools they need.
This applies to both physical tools and online software. We’ve seen many businesses let staff come to the office and take anything they need home to keep working, from their PCs, monitors and even office chairs. Small amounts of familiarity can make the transition to home working easier.
This also applies to software licenses and the like for those using personal equipment. Slow internet connections can also be a serious hinderance, and helping non technical people solve these IT issues can be a great help. There is nothing more frustrating than not having the right tools to complete the job after all!
The first step of getting re-start ready is to get things back to as normal as possible for those that are working, and making sure that communication with everyone who is still not working. Organisations that go the extra mile in how staff and teams are treated will see great rewards as we enter Q3 and Q4 this year.