It’s undeniable that the pandemic has made many of us realise that productivity doesn’t solely rely on the four walls of an office space. We’ve also seen the benefits that remote working delivers to our lives – from saving on travel expenses to providing a better work/life balance.
As lockdowns start to lift, companies are now looking for ways to have the best of both worlds by enabling their teams to retain the benefits of working from home, while also giving them the choice to head back to the office when it’s safe to do so.
This newfound flexibility is great for employees but for business owners, it creates new challenges and unknowns. One of the most important challenges being: how do you retain your company culture when your workforce is dispersed?
Here are three ways you can help foster a positive company culture with a team working both at home and in the office:
Communication is an essential aspect of teamwork and culture. And it's vital to create an inclusive environment where your employees feel connected and heard, no matter where they are working. Consider integrating communication platforms such as Slack or Microsoft Teams to help facilitate quick and easy discussion between team members.
All-hands company meetings are a staple of office working and during the shift to lockdown, many of us continued these (virtually) to keep everyone feeling connected. In a hybrid environment, there’s no reason this can’t continue – so long as you have the video conferencing platforms in place to connect those working from home with those in the office. Encouraging any speakers to turn on their cameras and address their colleagues like they would in the office is another good way to keep morale high and replicate the in-person experience.
While meetings are important, keep in mind that sometimes less is more. Too many meetings can be counterproductive and lead to video calling fatigue. Keep experimenting to find the right balance for your workforce to ensure meetings remain an effective form of communication and not an unnecessary distraction.
Finally, as we continue to adapt to hybrid working, encourage your employees to share their experiences. Whether through 1:1 catch-ups, team calls, or even anonymous online polls and surveys, gather and listen to feedback on a regular basis to ensure current setups are working for everyone.
To make the most of flexible working, employees should feel that they can work as productively and effectively from home as they do in the office.
Technology is a big part of creating a workplace that’s both flexible and enjoyable. At a basic level, supplying your workforce with the same quality of equipment they’d expect in the office goes a long way, from a monitor, keyboard and mouse, to bigger items such as an office chair and desk. But to fully enable your workforce to feel comfortable in their hybrid working environments, employees need reliable access to the tools and processes that they need to do their jobs properly.
That’s where a central cloud collaboration platform comes in. With systems such as Microsoft SharePoint, Slack and Asana, for example, enabling collaboration online has never been easier. Whether it’s an Excel spreadsheet, Word document or PowerPoint presentation, these systems can allow your employees to work on the same document in real-time, fueling collaboration between teams. Crucially, working this way also helps to keep track of version control, maintain quality and limit familiar team frustrations of “where is that document saved?”! Remember to also ensure that your employees are in the know about the latest in cybersecurity, so they can work efficiently from anywhere, while not putting the business at risk.
It may seem simple but ensuring that all employees experience the same ‘fun activities’ and ‘perks’ goes a long way in not only keeping the company spirit alive, but also ensuring that everyone feels that they are treated fairly. Those company lunches you put on once a month? Consider offering those working from home the chance to also get involved by expensing a lunchtime treat they buy locally.
Subject to local restrictions, start thinking about getting employees together again in small groups for fun team building activities, if they feel comfortable doing so. A simple subsidised trip out to a pub terrace or a meetup in an outdoor area for games and food are good way to start bringing your employees back together to catch up in a non-formal setting.
Ultimately, giving employees the flexibility to choose where they work from based on their personal schedule will not only help keep them happy and motivated, but you’ll be able to gain a competitive advantage as an employer by keeping on board your best talent.
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