How do you keep your employees engaged when everyone is working from home?
With remote working in full effect, teams are scattered across multiple locations and time zones. You’re now responsible for an invisible workforce.
It’s become much harder to look after your employees and help them be productive. You don’t know if people are struggling, frustrated or ineffective. These issues can start to fester and spread, impacting employee wellbeing and potentially filtering into customer relations.
As with so many things in our professional and personal lives, we’re all trying to figure out how to keep moving forward during the coronavirus pandemic. For a business, keeping a remote workforce consistently safe, engaged and on-mission is a tough ask. But there are solutions.
We don’t claim to have all the answers – after all, we’re trying to (quickly) figure out what does and doesn’t work, just like everyone else.
But we’ve been collecting lessons from our own stakeholders’, customers’ and our own experiences, so we thought we’d share what we’ve learned about some of the common challenges.
Here are some of the things we’ve found improve employee experience in the world of remote working.
With everyone confined to their homes, it’s easy to start feeling cut off from peers – particularly if employees are used to working closely in an office. Scale this effect across a whole team and communication can break down and magnify unresolved problems.
People begin missing the little things – the coffee breaks, a walk to the shops, catch ups at lunch, the after-work get-togethers. A lot of these small interactions ladder up to create a culture – so you need methods and habits to fill the holes left by remote working.
Regular communication is vital for giving employees a sense of togetherness, clarity around the wider business and, frankly, sanity. We’re social beings – we’re not designed to sit indoors with minimal contact with others.
So it’s helpful to over-communicate, even if it feels unnatural. We’ve found customers and stakeholders have responded well to updates that answer pressing needs. It’s also an opportunity to start a dialogue, gather valuable feedback and root out and solve hidden issues.
A good culture is most valuable during hard times. We’ve found a great way to manifest shared purpose is to make it easy for employees to act out your culture. Encouraging small wins – asking a coworker if they want to have a chat, expressing gratitude for someone solving a problem – are just a couple of ways small actions can lift an entire team.
It’s essential to maintain morale and togetherness during this crisis – on a business and human level. And it’s possible to help employees ensure their business stays a place to do good work, wherever the people are. Fortunately, there are more tips and tools to share for maintaining a resilient culture.
Moving from the office to your living room is a shock to the system – normal routines are uprooted, home and work are no longer separate and the world outside is changing on a seemingly daily basis.
Now the order of the day is to test fast and learn fast. New structures, habits and channels need implementing. And at the same time, everyone is managing the urgent, day to day tasks – namely looking after customers with the same level of care and attention.
It’s a difficult place to put together a whole new way of operating – particularly if remote working wasn’t previously common practice.
But technology – used in the right way and in the right places – can drastically ease the burden on employees up and down the organisation.
We’ve seen FAQ centres tackle common issues as they arise – then share fixes across channels to free up support teams from answering the same questions.
Regularly updated and centralised knowledge hubs can be a useful resource for employees to access any updates on company policies, upcoming events or any other key changes. It can also be a place for employees to share learnings across teams, so best practice can be scaled across the business.
We have the technology to bring people closer together than ever. Remote working has opened up the opportunity for new tools and assets to help us move through COVID-19.
The main focus of every business right now is employee wellbeing. This is a time of high stress and uncertainty around work (will I keep my job?) and personal life (are my loved ones safe?)
People’s physical and mental health bear the brunt in times like these – so it’s important to have structures and programmes in place for people to lean on, wherever they are. Open and honest top down communication is a great way to encourage employees at all levels to share problems. Once they’re out in the open, they can be fixed.
We’ve already touched on the challenges of isolation. Foster a community that interacts, learns from and supports its members. For example, this selection of Trailhead modules offer proven tips and tricks for tackling remote working – including looking after mental and physical health.
Find ways to draw on the knowledge and experience of peers – after all, we’re in this together.
Companies that go out of their way to make employee wellbeing a non-negotiable have engaged workforces. And by looking after employees, you give them the head space to look after customers – which means a productive remote workforce, doing more work, better.
These are only a handful of the practices that have helped us, our colleagues and customers navigate the world of remote working. We couldn’t fit them all into one blog post so we’re sharing all of our tips and tangible steps on how to get started in our on-demand webinar: ‘How Salesforce is Engaging a Remote Workforce’, featuring myself and Linda Aiello - our Senior Vice President of International Employee Success.