The question ‘how can organisational culture be managed remotely’ is cropping up quite often of late, and we guess it’s easy to understand why.
While there are many companies, both in South Africa and abroad, that have successfully rolled out remote positions and/or teams over recent years, many businesses have now been forced to do so with very little warning.
No-one likes to have their hand forced, particularly if the sudden operational changes that are volleyed their way affects the way they’ve been running a business for years, or even decades.
However, since we quite literally find ourselves in an adapt-or-die situation at a time when the economy is particularly precarious, it’s time to buck up and get on with it, wouldn’t you say?
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To help you navigate these unchartered waters, we’ll be taking a look at a few unique issues that tend to surface in terms of company culture whenever the proverbial rug is ripped from under an entire team in one fell swoop, over the course of the next few months.
We’ll start with how to address the heightened risk of burnout and disrupted work-life balance among your workforce.
Let's get started:
Back in the day, working from home used to be touted as one of the easiest ways to maintain a healthy work-life balance. After all, you don’t need to commute or get dressed up in a corporate uniform, and you get to make your own hours - right?
Well, it turns out that remote workers are actually at a greater risk of burn-out and disrupted work-life balance than the folks working at the office, especially if they aren’t used to this kind of set-up, or have to deal with added pressures (such as having school-age children at home, or taking care of elderly relatives).
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Various studies and first-hand accounts have shown that employees who work from home can feel pressured to correlate their schedules with employees at HQ, often sense disconnection from their peers (or feel isolated in general), and can quickly succumb to the temptation of staying perpetually connected because they don't want to look as though they are slacking.
While all this effort may superficially look like improved productivity, it is not sustainable, is very bad for employee engagement and likely to lead to a whole lot of unwanted talent churn.
So, what can you do to help your team stay their unburned-out selves while they work from home? Here are a few things to try:
1. Recommend working in concentrated bursts of 90 minutes at a time
According to author Noah St. John, who penned the seminal manual Power Habits: The New Science for Making Success Automatic, scientists William Dement and Nathaniel Kleitman proved that the human sleep cycle is broken into 90 minute increments, and that this cycle applies to our waking lives as well. I.e. we move from a state of optimal focus to a state of mental fatigue every hour and a half.
Our instincts may tell us to try and power through this lull, but in fact, it will only worsen our focus and productivity over the course of the next 90-minute cycle.
As such, make a point of advising your employees who work from home to take a break every 90 minutes, and do something that takes them away from their screen - sit outside in the sun, make a snack, listen to some music, freshen up, etc.
2. Institute the use of time-tracking software
When employees work from home, they are far more likely to work in stop-start bursts due to unexpected interruptions.
Because of this, it can be hard to keep track of the amount of productive hours worked. Instituting the use of time tracking platforms or apps, such as Toggl, Harvest, Everhour, or Timing, can help them to see when they’ve worked their allotted hours and are ‘allowed’ to switch off for the day.
Just be sure to explain the altruistic motive behind the time-tracking tools so it doesn’t add any undue pressure to go above and beyond the call of duty.
3. Make a point of scheduling regular facetime
A daily meeting is actually preferable, so everyone can start the day off on the same page and discuss any project dependencies if need be. If this suits the various members of your team, work it into your schedule.
The personal nature of a video chat reaffirms peer-to-peer connection, and a regular meeting slot can also give our employees an incentive to get out of slouchy clothing and dress up a little.
4. Place a strong focus on employee wellness
The stark reality of the global COVID-19 pandemic has placed a renewed focus on health and wellbeing, and rightly so. While we all shelter in place to keep the spread of the virus under control, it’s a good idea to up the ante on the corporate wellness front as well.
Encourage your employees to stay active and healthy by sharing resources like at-home exercise videos and meal planning tips. You could even consider making one-on-one sessions with dieticians or personal trainers a part of your employee reward options. Have a look at our innovative employee engagement platform here to get more ideas for wellness-based rewards. You can even take it for a spin free of charge when you opt-in on our complimentary trial.
Remote working teams are here to stay, so we invite you to take a look at our employee recognition platform. It offers the recognition and encouragement your team needs. Click the button below to hop on a FREE 30-day trial so you can see how it works for you.