As lockdowns and restrictions around the world start to ease and more people are allowed to head back to their offices, there has been a somewhat understandable confusion in many companies over how to approach work from home arrangements.
Some organizations have stressed the need to have their workforce back at desks as soon as possible, while others have fully embraced virtual working, allowing employees to make their own decision about where (and even when) they want to work.
While the circumstances might be very different depending on your business type and sector, the reality is that accepting this massive shift in work culture and finding ways to adapt your systems and employee experience strategy is crucial for maintaining productivity and employee engagement.
We explore a few ways you can promote healthy and productive policies around virtual working that still line up with your organization’s culture and ethos around inclusion and integration.
Build Policies around Your Employee’s Health
When it comes to working from home, or from any place for that matter, a decent setup is extremely important for productivity and concentration, but also health.
An improper work setup can bring with it blurred vision, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back strain, and most commonly, poor body posture. On top of all this, there’s an added layer of stress that comes with handling high pressure projects from a workstation that is less than adequate.
To help your employees work at their best and avoid short or long term health issues, consider sharing resources and guides on how they can create the right set up at home. This can include everything from positioning their screens in a place that reduces neck strain or making sure there is adequate lighting in place.
An increasingly important aspect of this topic is mental health and wellbeing. Many of your employees may not be lucky enough to have a dedicated room where they can work, or space away from their family members, who might also be working from home at the same time.
Consider sharing various strategies and tips with your teams that can help them cope with difficult situations and do the best with what they have available to them. Being open to people’s concerns and challenges will also signal to your employees that you’re aware of the difficult changes they are going through, even if there’s no quick fix that can solve all their virtual working problems.
Set Measurable Expectations for Success
Whether you’re still a modest sized startup or a large enterprise level company, it is important to set boundaries and a clear set of expectations for all your employees. This is vital for providing the kind of structure that many people lose from being around colleagues or their managers. Establishing measurable goals ensures that your team is still aware of what counts as high-quality work and helps to keep people focused and engaged on their tasks.
The key is striking a balance between established major goals and smaller, probably less significant, targets. Avoid the temptation of giving your employees too many daily goals to hit as this can feel like micromanagement and is often not that productive. Instead, focus on the bigger picture and let your employees chart their own course toward important project outcomes.
Trust in Your Processes
Assuming you’ve already built some effective processes around how your team communicates and collaborates with each other for projects and tasks, try to avoid bombarding your team with emails and telephone calls.
Rather than managing small details and triple checking people are doing what they need to, focus on building processes that give your employees autonomy and allow them to find the best way to use their time as efficiently as possible.
Create Clear and Efficient Communication Guidelines
Zoom, Slack, Teams, Trello, Asana, and InVision are all great communication tools that can contribute to an inclusive virtual workplace, but using these tools without creating new guidelines can create several challenges in your organization. A few issues that can arise are:
- Certain employees may not feel comfortable using video calls continuously throughout the day, especially when they are working in a busy home environment or next to their partners
- Some people might favour one platform over another and miss out on vital communications due to a primary mode of contact not being established (e.g. employees only checking emails but not checking Slack for real-time updates)
- Messages may get lost as people communicate across multiple content management systems and are overwhelmed by too many notifications
- Some of your employees may be unhappy to receive WhatsApp messages for work and would rather use this, or other platforms, for personal messages only
To overcome these and other issues with communication, it’s important to establish efficient and fair guidelines that work for your teams… and then ensure they are embedded.
Looking for More Advice?
If you’re looking for more advice on how to improve the way your organization works in relation to virtual work setups, communication strategies and employee engagement, get in touch with us at Service Brand Global.