It’s safe to say that no-one could have forecasted or planned for the events so far in 2020, many businesses of all sizes, big and small are under extreme pressures either to keep up with demand for certain services/products or to prepare for potential reduction in teams, and even closures of stores and other facilities – change is occurring daily. It’s an unsettling and uncertain time for business owners and employees alike, some now working from home.
Employees having to self-isolate either because of symptoms of the Coronavirus or due to their vulnerable state, has promoted the importance of remote and flexible working, this isn’t possible for all businesses but for those office based firms, it offers the ability for individuals to continue their roles as best they can during these testing times.
Anyone who is self-isolating will be finding it tough, morale and general wellbeing is being put to the test more than ever. Anxiety amongst families and individuals has never been higher due to the unknown environment we, as a county, nation and world, are working in. Here at CitrusHR Consulting we are very used to both remote and flexible working, we would like to share our tips with you and some suggestions to try and boost morale and integrate teams, even in these trying months.
Tips for Flexible and Remote Working
- Technology – do you have the technology in place to support working from home arrangements? Ensure cyber security is a priority for you members and their internet connection is secure. Local Gloucestershire firm, Lister Communications Ltd can support with any technical requirements and have recently published a piece on how to get homeworking setup safely and effectively from phones to laptops, read their expert advice here.
- Personal Details – ensure you have your employees contact details and they are up to date; phone numbers (including home phone) and addresses, this is a prime opportunity to get on top of some admin and update any relevant files or the CitrusHR Portal, if you haven’t already done so.
- Communication – Schedule regular telephone catch-ups and weekly/monthly team meetings (utilising either Skype, LiveMeeting, Zoom, Teleconferencing, WhatsApp etc).
- Ergonomics – check your team are working comfortably, we suggest providing employees with ergonomic training so that they know how to sit correctly and have the correct equipment at home to try and avoid RSI etc. Employees should complete a working from home Risk Assessment.
- Contracts and Policies – have you got a Working From Home policy in your Employee Handbook? Now is the time to get this completed and circulated to teams, ensure employee contracts are up-to-date too. Please get in touch if you would like any support with either of these.
Boosting Morale and Integrating Teams Remotely
- Communication – keeping in touch with your teams is vital. As noted above, it’s important you schedule regular meetings. Some more informal options which allow easier flow of communication can include creating team WhatsApp Groups, Google Hangouts and Zoom. From our experience this is more personal and responsive than e-mails.
- Virtual Tea Breaks – rather than formal meetings, boost team morale by scheduling a virtual ‘tea break’ which invites normal conversation, either via Skype or even FaceTime.
- Virtual Quiz – as all group gatherings are suspended how about creating a teamworking event virtually? Setting up a virtual quiz is just one idea. Create a firmwide recipe book “most inventive ways to make pasta”… Now is the time to get creative and try and engage your teams remotely – The Taskmaster and The Floor is Lava (TV/Books) both provide different but fun activities which could be worked with virtually!
- Promote Health – As a firm, encourage your employees working at home to take advantage of regular breaks, suggesting online fitness sessions. If budget allows consider offering to purchase apps like HeadSpace (mindfulness and meditation app) to your employees. Local Bristol firm Sunlife have supported their employees and done just that.
- Back to basics – bring back the telephones! Instead of always e-mailing your employees as you would have in the past, perhaps use this time to pick up the phone and call them, this provides an opportunity to ask how they are, and gauge their wellbeing during difficult times.
- Understanding – as an employer, we understand you are under a lot of pressure financially and personally, it’s important to recognise many of your employees are too. They are potentially juggling childcare, looking after vulnerable friends/family and some even grieving over a loved one. Being realistic but also supportive and understanding is vital here. Offering flexible hours if your business can survive working that way – evenings, early mornings or even weekend working to ensure employees can manage their hours/workloads around the new scenario and interruptions. For those with children and pets at home, be prepared for more interruptions than normal during a teleconference!
Hopefully the above will provide you and your teams with some ideas and support working remotely and flexibly. We would love to hear from you and hear what you’re doing to help boost team morale in what is a very challenging time!