When the business world went on lockdown in March of 2020, many business leaders and employees thought that they would soon be back to work “as normal.” However, as summer quickly turns into autumn, many employees are still working remotely. In order to better prepare for the future, we now need to ask ourselves some questions about our long-term work environment:
- How can we redefine our corporate culture?
- How can we keep employees engaged when facing long-term remote work arrangements?
- What happens when we have some employees working in the office and others working from home?
Redefining Corporate Culture
Corporate culture is not stagnat. In fact, any successful organization must be able to adapt to change. A recent HBR article, Don’t Let the Pandemic Sink Your Company Culture, defines cultural adaptability as “your organization’s ability to innovate, experiment, and quickly take advantage of new opportunities” and says that business leaders “must continue to cultivate their company’s culture to help people stay focused on the most important initiatives even as they contend with the unprecedented challenges and continuously changing conditions presented by the pandemic.” This can be done by:
- Ensuring that you hire and promote people who are resilient and have the ability to adapt.
- Communicating (both verbally and in writing) your organization’s core values on a regular basis.
- Being able to quickly pivot and lead by example.
Promoting Employee Engagement
Perhaps the most important asset to building and maintaining employee engagement is to provide them with the technology — and related support — they need to succeed. By this point in time, your organization has most likely invested in the best video conferencing and collaboration tools to support your organization. Here are some other steps that you, as a business leader, can take to promote engagement:
- Create a robust corporate communication that outlines your organization’s current Covid-19 protocols and related responses, advice, policies, and FAQs.
- Design a framework in which you can give digital feedback effectively to all employees; please see my article Digital Communication: Giving Effective Feedback for suggestions.
In the Office or Out?
Over the past six months, business leaders have been forced to innovate and adapt to circumstances we had scarcely imagined a year ago. It was recently reported that more than half of Americans want to continue working remotely, while two-thirds of companies may render their current work-from-home policies permanent. However, it is important that business leaders also recognize that some employees may be returning to the office (per corporate policies and regulations). How can leaders make sure that all employees — those in the office and those working from home — are given the same opportunities. In addition to the suggestions outlined above, consider:
- Encourage employees, no matter where they are physically located, to take virtual coffee breaks or participate in virtual after-work happy hours in order to socialize. These conversations are essential in preventing potential burnout and isolation.
- Recognize that times are stressful; encourage all employees to use their vacation time. Research clearly shows that well-rested employees are more efficient, effective, and enjoy better mental and physical health. Please see my article, The Importance of Vacation, for more information.
There is no doubt that being a business leader in 2020 presents unique challenges. Please contact me today if you would like to discuss additional ways to keep your employees engaged.