In the current stay-at-home economy, employees find themselves shifting their daily routines from commuting to an office to commuting to, perhaps, their kitchen table. The new daily commute may also pose all forms of distractions like children, pets, TV, and unlimited trips to the fridge.
Yes, the new norm can present a challenge for you and your employees. Luckily, we can turn to business leaders who are successfully figuring things out as they go -- while empowering their people digitally to stay engaged -- for tips. Four of them have shared valuable strategies recently.
1. Put your people first.
George Gerchow, CSO at Sumo Logic, a leader in continuous intelligence, advises leaders make judgment calls based on what's happening in their locality. At Sumo Logic, he says, "we have created an emergency response team who meets daily to discuss the next steps the organization will take to protect our employees and the business."
Additionally, his leadership team is encouraging employees to FaceTime to provide a pulse of what people are doing. "At this time, it's especially important to ensure people stay engaged and don't overwork, while also being empathetic to people's needs and work styles. Any company that doesn't put people first is going to suffer as a result," noted Gerchow.
2. Foster a community vibe.
Sangram Vajre, the co-founder at Terminus, an account-based marketing technology firm, ensures that all meetings are face-to-face over video screen. Some team members even leave their video conference tools on as they work to stay constantly available to meet. The point is to stay connected and in community. "We've also created a #NowSpinning company-wide playlist where we're sharing our favorite music and podcasts with each other," adds Vajre.
To further that community vibe, a daily routine at Terminus now includes remote hangouts, Monday coffee, and happy hour Thursday. "Most importantly," stresses Vajre, "we know that many team members have kids at home as well, so we're acting with grace, because having grace for each other during this unusual time will help us prevail."
3. Offer plenty of resources.
Peter Bauer, CEO, Mimecast, a cybersecurity provider, explains that moving to a fully remote setup "requires new muscle memory," especially since everyone works differently. He shares that at Mimecast, they've offered employees a variety of resources, recommendations, and tips to help support them in this new way of working, including:
- Conducting daily meetings via video calls to replace the in-person connectivity they had in the office.
- A daily employee engagement think tank to help keep a pulse on the organization and come up with ideas to help make the most of this new experience together.
- Being mindful of the mental health needs of team members and their families, knowing that the combination of social isolation, close quarters, potential ill health, economic hardships and uncertainty can weigh on people in unique ways.
- Maintaining a sense of fun and spirit with a virtual talent show competition, where people can submit short videos of their special skills and have them showcased.
- Hosting virtual happy hours, team walking meetings where everyone walks while on Zoom, and team workouts.
4. Check-in on the well-being of others.
As teams commit to a remote environment, the physical or emotional presence of people can't be felt as much, and it's harder to check in on their overall well-being.
Josh Feast, CEO and co-founder of Cogito, a leader in real-time emotional intelligence solutions, says, "Companies should consider creating an 'early warning system' with the help of technology to aid in detecting when an employee needs assistance or is struggling, and guide them accordingly." He adds, "We must set up alternate methods to ensure everyone feels emotionally supported. Technology is now more human-aware and can aid us in these efforts to remain connected and lead with empathy."
Feast reminds us to stop and simply ask how our colleagues are doing. The combination of operational leadership and compassion has a profound impact on the overall health of employees, who are the ones driving companies forward during this turbulent time.