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Using remote workplace tools while you work from home

Using remote workplace tools while you work from home

Author: Katie Wan, VP Head of People, Eko

With workforces dispersed to work from home in light of the Covid-19 outbreak, advice on how to stay productive is at its brim. While many are rushing to share tips on transitioning operations and ensuring business continuity in a remote working environment, what seems to be less prevalent is the focus on how to inject resilience into the Company’s community.

Yet we believe there are multiple benefits to having a trusting and united organisation, including reduced employee turnover and increased engagement. With an indefinite move to work from home across our global offices, it is a daily consideration on how we can foster a virtual workplace embodied by trust and inclusion. Here are some of my recommendations to other teams out there also using a virtual remote to enable this:

Get creative with your communication

Providing various streams of communication reminds employees that they are part of a team. But with employees working from home, messages can become tedious, and they may get lost amongst everything else. Being creative and varying the style of communication can ensure key messages land and that staff engage in the content.

Try sending company-wide announcements to share major organisational news or a link to your next team meeting agenda. You can also use task management tools to align project expectations and share tasks with your remote team members.

Respect the ‘work/home’ boundary

An interesting observation shared by our management team was the blurred line between work and personal time now that home and the workplace have morphed into one place. Although many organisations worry about reduced performance, what we saw was actually a tendency to overwork, leading us to be concerned about burnout and a negative tip on work-life balance.

So, how can we ensure employees don’t overdo it? Simple ideas that we implemented include respecting lunch hours and using a feature which ensures employees don’t receive notifications outside of those times. Beyond practical implementation, merely emphasising the Company’s stance on these points reiterates to employees that they are both trusted to work from home, and their wellbeing is a priority to the Company. These gestures go a long way in developing resilience within the Company’s community.

Open door policy

Keeping lines of communication open with employees and empowering them to share their feedback openly is a challenge in a virtual workplace. With no physical contact, it’s even easier to let thoughts brush under the carpet. So, how can managers and team leads promote a culture of talking proactively? Much as we know people have different learning styles employees have preferences in how they share their feedback and communicate.

Here, we suggest providing up to 2-3 feedback channels. Here are some examples: schedule online coffee chats for 30 minutes focused solely on feedback, create a digital survey to capture detailed feedback and set up polls for immediate employee opinions. As an example, one of the polls we released in the very early days of COVID-19 was, ‘How soon do you think we should move to work from home?’. Having these mediums for employees to share their opinion enables us to collate bottoms-up feedback quickly and demonstrates employee voice truly counts.

Keep the ‘human touch’

In a physical workplace, desk-based banter, chitchats over coffee and work drinks are the norm, providing valuable moments that promote warm relations. These exchanges can create organisational friendships that should not be underestimated. Positive impact includes facilitating work collaborations through developing interpersonal trust and increasing workplace satisfaction. Since shifting to work from home, we have been able to leverage on internal chat forums to provide a virtual alternative for small talk. “Pantry” topics across our office chat groups, driven by employee content, enable staff to pivot away from work for a quick break builds a community of support.

Our most recent topic that trended was ‘how to stay positive when working from home’. The stream of comments showed a high level of user engagement and people were able to share their personal experiences directly from their homes.

Re-think on boarding and new starter integration

Keeping an undercurrent of core values and expectations rippling through a workforce helps the organisation to stay aligned. With work from home in place, we had to re-think our new-starter on boarding to ensure they were well integrated and socialised into our company culture. To this end, try re-structuring your on boarding content to online learning resources in a centralised repository of documents and training materials.

Make company OKRs and mission/ vision resources readily available, as well as create fun quizzes to test new-starter knowledge. Additionally, making friends as a new hire can be daunting, so imagine being new and also remote from Day 1. To help, we set up new starter chat groups to facilitate a buddy system, and each new starter gets an online ‘Welcome’ in the Company Pantry chat group to introduce them to the Company. 

Final thoughts

A shift to work from home would be a significant challenge if we did not adjust our mind-set to a virtual workplace. With your remote workplace tools’ capabilities and features, you can adapt quickly to support remote working with the primary objective of employees retaining a strong sense of being valued and belonging to the workplace. Above all else, these features have helped us keep a ‘people-first’ culture, despite the extraordinary circumstances.

If you have any queries yourself or from your team on remote working you can email our team at bonnie@ekoapp.com as we are here to support in these strange times. Alternatively, you can have a look at our own website to learn a bit more about Eko as a remote working solution.

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