When businesses were forced to shut down back in March, employees didn’t know when they would be back again. While the dust is still far from settled, a lot of businesses are talking about reopening. While a return to work seems inevitable after a long work from home reprieve, we believe that businesses shouldn’t forget the many nuggets of wisdom they picked up from remote working. Most companies invested an arm and a leg into developing a strong remote work culture among their teams. So, why give it up? We believe that there are a few aspects of remote-work culture that company leaders need to stick to even after returning to work.
Instant Messaging Over Email
If there is one lesson we learnt while working from home, it is the inefficiency of emails. Not only are emails impersonal, too formal, and stuffy, they can kill productivity at work as well. While emails may be great for reaching out to your customers as well as for all your inter-business communication, why would you make email your primary channel for conversing with your team.
During the long work from home period, plenty of businesses switched to Slack or other instant-messaging services as their primary means of communication. Even though a return to work is back on the table for many companies, remember that another wave of the pandemic could have us all locked up at home again. This is why it’s best not to fall back on email even if you are returning to work.
Flexible Work Policies
That whole 9-5 routine fared well before the pandemic, but the long months of remote working have made us realize how unnecessary it really was. Everyone reaches their productivity peak at different times and people have different responsibilities that may not sync perfectly with a traditional work schedule. It’s no wonder that a vast majority of employees consider flexible working policies the biggest factor in enhancing productivity.
However, a lot of employers seem to be neglecting this fact and are appearing less patient with the allowed flexibility. If you allowed flexible working hours to your team during remote working, who says you can’t be generous once they return to work. The effect on employee morale will be unprecedented.
Focus on Employee Care
When the pandemic forced us all into the confines of our homes, many business leaders were concerned about the wellbeing of their employees, making sure that they have everything they need to succeed, helping employees cope with anxiety and stress, and ensuring that each employee feels supported and empowered. This attitude has been long overdue even though the benefits of employee care are numerous. The most obvious being that happier employees are more willing to participate in your business and give it their best. The focus on employee care was new for most businesses, but we dearly hope that it sticks around for much longer.
One of the biggest benefits of remote work is that it enables companies to embrace diversity and inclusion by hiring people from different cultural, geographic, and socioeconomic backgrounds and with different perspectives. This can become a challenge when your hiring process is restricted to a certain locale where people may not even want to live.
On the other pool, companies can enrich their talent pool by hiring people from all parts of the world, while allowing them to work remotely from the communities where they feel the most comfortable and supported. The pandemic has shown that physical barriers don’t matter when we have a repository of technology at our disposal to ensure seamless communication, collaboration, and project management.
Regular Team Building Exercises
A lot of company leaders had to put in an extra effort to make sure that their employees stayed connected during the remote working period. Virtual team building activities proved to be the best way of fostering positive, friendly interaction in an otherwise professional space. While nothing can replicate “water cooler” conversations or real-life interactions, a lot of businesses felt the need to inculcate a sense of camaraderie albeit the physical distances. Now that a return to work is inevitable, why should these activities no longer be a part of your workplace culture?
In fact, research says that team building efforts need to be more rigorous than ever, since the unceremonious transition from in-person to remote work and back has been a whiplash for many employees. Helping employees feel connected with their teammates again can help to acclimate themselves to whatever environment they currently find themselves in and make the best of the situation.