The world has gone virtual, virtual meetings, virtual coffee mornings, virtual lunches, virtual danceathons and virtual yoga! What impact does having to go virtual to run an organisation have on the team and employee engagement levels?
In normal circumstances engaging, motivating and ensuring remote teams feel part of the wider team can be challenging. So, what happens when 99% of your employees are now working remotely, on their own and at home?
Flexible and home working is becoming more popular and acceptable with many organisations, but having it imposed on a workforce needs a different approach to normal internal comms.
Employees need to feel they belong, that they are part of a team, feel safe and supported and that they can always go and ask someone for help or advice. In the normal workplace we take this for granted, we are surrounded by colleagues in a bustling sometimes noisy environment where they can have banter, casual chats around the coffee machine or lunch together. Face to face communication is a ‘tribe’ environment, it’s incredibly powerful, so take this away for long periods of time and issues can appear.
Loneliness, anxiety and a lowering of morale can start to appear. Productivity will drop and employees will feel isolated and thus their performance can drop. Add to this the additional pressure of school closures, movement restrictions and a spreading virus.
So, in these unprecedented times of lock-down, how do we maintain employee’s morale, motivation and engagement so they feel they are still part of the ‘tribe'?
At DRPG we have 320 of the team working in their homes, we maintain a level of normality, through innovative communications. Technology plays a major part of creating the virtual world; however, we shouldn’t get obsessed with the tech (so long as it works) we need to get obsessed with the content and messaging.
The team have to feel we are all in this together, which means open conversations, transparency and regular updates. Every week we have a team update, this is a TV style programme, which gives news on what’s happening, how we are doing and what we need to do, team members can take part, asking questions and comments.
Each week we also have a fun TV show, with a virtual bar, where we share funny stories from the week, run silly games and quizzes such as “what the bosses get up to while the team are away”. These programmes give employees a sense of belonging, they feel informed, reassured and feel good about the organisation, the team are not abandoned.
Individual teams across the business have all created different ways of working on a daily basis, which mirrors normal life. Team meetings, coffee breaks, danceathons, yoga, singalongs are all part of the new virtual world we now live in. Flexible working is now the new norm for everyone allowing for childcare and new routines.
When employees return to their workplace and the offices, shops and factories reopen, we may think we are returning to normality, however there will now be a new norm as our teams have experienced a new way of working. The virtual world will not disappear, it will be part of the new norm where the way we manage our internal communications will never be the same again.