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Despite being a few weeks in, the switch to remote working will no doubt still feel new and testing for many businesses and their employees who may be experiencing both its benefits and challenges for the first time.
However, while the environment may be new for many, it is possible for organisations and employees to remain productive and provide the same level of service their customers have come to demand.
But to ensure the employees feel comfortable and able to work from home effectively, there are three main elements organisations need to consider – the practical elements of communicating remotely, maintaining motivation and health and wellbeing. In this blog, I share how we at Pulsant are approaching the new working environment as well as some key advice on how to help your team stay motivated, connected, fit and healthy.
Embracing remote working
As a HR team at Pulsant, we are fortunate in that we already work across the organisation’s various offices so we are used to connecting with colleagues remotely across multiple locations. However, outside of our team, everyone has been excellent at quickly adjusting to their new home office environments.
Following the shift in working practices, one of the most important measures we have introduced is enhancing communications. Staff are encouraged to use video platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom for visual interaction, instead of the telephone and this is helping to boost morale and foster collaboration. In a single week recently, I spoke on video to more people than I have ever spoken to in a week in the business. People are making an extra effort to collaborate, engage and ensure everyone feels as included as possible.
When it comes to video conferencing etiquette, we have found that people just need to grasp the nettle. Understandably, some people are a little shy about showing themselves and their home on camera, so it’s about making those employees feel like it’s a safe environment and reinforcing that we are all in it together. The more employees are encouraged to participate, the less unfamiliar it feels.
It’s also important to recognise that everyone’s home situation is different. Some, like myself, are surrounded by people and dogs. Others who are used to working with others around them have suddenly found themselves all on their own. It is vital that all circumstances are considered and steps are taken to ensure colleagues stay motivated and connected throughout this period. Some of the best ways to do this are:
Make sure to ask about employee / colleague wellbeing as well as work and keep different communication channels open.
Inject as many social and fun elements into the business-as-usual work as possible to try and keep up a similar environment to the office.
Encourage people to offer their support to teams across the business. We’ve seen an upturn from people in quiet areas volunteering to help out where things are busy and wearing different hats for a while, which has been an enormous help.
Provide daily updates at team level and company updates at least once a week. At Pulsant, we have an information resource centre people can access at any time. We have also been sending out more online communications, so people know exactly where they stand and what the situation is.
Employ morale boosting initiatives – ensure that people feel engaged and able to discuss any concerns about working from home. Create a platform for those ‘in the kitchen making a coffee’ type office situations. For example, we have set up a Pulsant Team with a virtual café, a pub and a gym where colleagues can meet and socialise.
Don’t forget health and wellbeing
Regardless of different situations, we are all working outside of our comfort zones at the moment and will be for a while to come. In these circumstances, maintaining our health and wellbeing has never been more important.
For me, I prefer to work out in the morning, so I use the time I would have been commuting to do exercise. It helps me make that transition from a domestic mindset to a work focussed one. However, regardless of what time of day works best, staying active and taking time away from work is crucial and organisations should be encouraging and helping employees to do so where possible.
While it may have seemed unfamiliar at first, we’re slowly all adjusting to our new temporary way of working and taking some of the steps above can help ease the discomfort. This period has certainly highlighted the requirement for organisations to be agile and adapt to different working environments and hopefully there are elements we can learn from and evolve after the crisis has passed.
For more information on advice on how best to support sustained remote working download our short guide here