How to maintain employee morale when remote working

Mar 28, 2020 2:15 AM ET

Now that the switch to remote working has been made, leaders should turn their attention to maintaining morale and a positive workplace culture, writes Caroline Gleeson, CEO and co-founder of Occupop

As employers and employees get more comfortable with the new working environment they find themselves in, the focus of business leaders should be moving from remote working productivity concerns to maintaining employee morale and a positive company culture in a remote environment. The priority of all businesses should be the wellbeing of employees, along with maintaining a positive work environment. This will enable staff, sometimes working alone for the first time, to thrive, which will in turn help company productivity and increase employee loyalty.

These are some of the ways that employee morale can be maintained when there is no physical company culture.

Promote company culture in everything you do

It is vital to create a culture that is felt and known by all employees, no matter their location. It is instilling the company values into every employee and their actions. For example, our company values are; Transparency, Fun, Forward-thinking, Integrity and Friendliness. In our office, they are written on the walls. Now, in a time of crisis, we look to our values when making critical business decisions.

In the remote environment, we actively encourage one another to embody these values in our interactions with each other and our customers. It’s hugely important for employees to understand and embrace the values of a company; not only does it give a sense of belonging and purpose, it is also critical to uphold yourself to a moral standard during difficult times like these.

Keep up company meetings

Before the health crisis we would hold weekly team meetings and monthly company meetings at Occupop, where everyone would be in attendance. Now, we have daily team meetings where we each catch up and discuss our focus for the day. We’ve also introduced two weekly group meetings so that the company can all get together for a short catch up and to socialise a little bit. Meetings like these are even more relevant when remote working, as people aren’t seeing the day to day activities of the company or the individual team efforts. Video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts and Zoom are excellent to facilitate these.

Encourage group discussions

Much like encouraging online ‘get-togethers’, the value of casual idea sharing is often underestimated and is notably missed now that it’s not an option. Video conferencing is not plausible for each and every discussion point, but online chat tools like Slack provide an ideal platform for idea sharing and informal communication. It’s also a great way to communicate with cross functional teams and promote inclusion.

Maintain social activities

As with business meetings, corporate social activities shouldn’t cease just because you are not together. If you have weekly drinks on a Thursday night, continue that virtually. Setting games or daily fun tasks is another way to stay connected in a non work capacity. The purpose is to retain connectivity and team mentality but it also positively impacts your employees mental wellbeing. Working remotely can be lonely and isolating; knowing there are set fun tasks and team bonding opportunities can go a long way when it comes to employee engagement and morale.

Ensuring home office set up and gestures go a long way

For many companies, the requirement to work remotely came into force practically overnight. Many people may not have an office space available to them, a lot will be creating makeshift work spaces at home. If your employee does not have a desk or chair consider making these available, either by borrowing from the office or purchasing something low cost for them to use during this time. Another way to boost employee morale is to commit a charitable donation to help those affected by this crisis. The core of company culture is understanding your employees values and aligning them to your business values. A gesture of goodwill like this will undoubtedly bring that alignment much closer together.

Ensure transparency

This is an uncertain time, with countless people worried about their jobs, particularly as there are so many unknowns. Ongoing internal communication is invaluable for employee morale. Regular updates on the health of the business in group meetings will help to alleviate fear and anxiety from a work perspective.

Appreciate the circumstances

For many, circumstances will have invariably changed; those with children for example. It’s important for companies to understand that these changes have an impact on how people work and when they are available to work. Appreciating these circumstances and where possible, creating new working arrangements to suit these needs, will be hugely beneficial to both you and the employee.

Don’t let your personal work relationships diminish

Most people spend the majority of their week in work, normally in close proximity to colleagues. For many, close relationships and common interests with colleagues form. People underestimate the value of these relationships when they are suddenly apart. Pick a common interest that can be maintained virtually, for example, like a book club or online game tournament.

In a physical workplace, your culture is promoted through daily social interactions. The efforts a company makes to enrich and delight employees all feeds into employee morale and culture. But this is not limited to the four walls of an organisation! That is office culture.

Occupop is an advanced hiring tool which utilises AI technology to help HR and Hiring Managers narrow down their candidate search and identify the best potential employees.

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