Employee wellness is an essential part of any business’s success, but it takes on a heightened level of significance in the face of an unprecedented challenge like transitioning an entire workforce to remote work during a pandemic.
In part two of this two-part series, employers across Austin said they’re prioritizing flexibility with their teams as they adjust to life working from home. In this section, we’ll cover strategies and resources leaders are using to maintain employee health and wellness across their remote workforce.
Some themes? Transparency and communication have evolved to include frequent check-ins from leadership to get a pulse on how employees and their families are doing, and what tools teams might need to do their best work. Team members are given greater flexibility to work on a schedule that suits them best. Company-wide meetings are regularly scheduled to give business updates. Team members are urged to exercise via digital workouts and yoga sessions that break up the day.
VIRTUAL EVENTS TO FIGHT EMPLOYEE ISOLATION:
- Show and tell (kids welcome!)
- Weekly, randomized coffee chats between employees
- Lunch and learns
- Spirit weeks
- Craft nights
- Best movie and TV show bracket tournament
- Meditation sessions
- Happy hours
Most impactful change: We decentralized tasks, workflow and project ownership to team members. The shift in ownership allowed our employees to perform tasks and hold responsibilities outside of their normal scope of responsibilities.
The last thing we wanted to do was subject our employees to a monotonous work routine. This shift allowed our team members to use their creative side to train, lead and coach peers on new initiatives and processes. We needed to move from a more in-person business model to a virtual one. Our team analyzed the unique problem we faced and designed processes, features and technology that will remain an important aspect of our business.
Remote engagement tools: We’ve relied on Google Sheets and other collaborative platforms to develop new talk tracks and offer feedback for a new process to refine our virtual efforts. We are also conducting video tutorials for our team members to assess their learning with rapid-fire questions, ensuring they understand and retain the information presented.
How REX supports teams: We recommended employees take home surplus cleaning supplies from the office and offered to send out protective masks. We support the team’s happiness with Friday virtual happy hours to chat about subjects other than work. In our daily meetings, we discuss what we are doing during the quarantine period and make suggestions to one another regarding health. Employees also recommend workouts and ways to enjoy the nice weather.
Most impactful change: It’s important to us that we continue business as usual, so we hear from our leadership team on a regular basis. Our CEO sends us fun weekly video updates from his home to share how the company is performing and how our work is contributing to ACG’s goals. We continue to hold our global all-hands each month and regional open houses to keep us up to date on what is happening regionally.
Remote engagement tools: We are still hiring and we encourage all of our new members to join our “Keeping up with the Gurus” Slack channel where we use Donut.ai to pair them weekly with a different employee across the globe. We’ve also made our onboarding sessions virtual, allowing our new hires to meet our executive leadership team.
We also started a global Slack channel dedicated to fun. Daily polls, “fancy Fridays,” Zoom background competitions, jokes and games help keep morale high. And every Friday, we host local trivia sessions on topics like “The Simpsons,” “The Office” and music of the '90s.
How Cloud Guru supports teams: We want to ensure our employees wake up and start the day right, so we start each morning with 10 minutes of guided meditation using the Headspace app. The Melbourne team comes together every Thursday for a virtual yoga class with our usual in-office yoga teacher. We also send out bi-weekly wellness pulse checks that are specific to COVID-19. We also practice 5K day, where our gurus run, walk, cycle, longboard or ski to reach their 5K goal.
Most impactful change: Implementing a daily team-wide stand-up first thing in the morning. We have an open sign up for team members to host the meeting or discuss a topic of their choice. We’ve seen stand-ups based on morning meditation, intelligence briefings, sales trivia, scavenger hunts and product demos. This meeting has helped us all, especially the newer team members, to feel connected and engaged with the company.
Remote engagement tools: Our team works on Slack, the Google suite, Trello and Jira. A portion of our team was remote full-time before the pandemic, so we’ve grown accustomed to leveraging tooling like these throughout our workflow. Our platform provides cybersecurity awareness training for companies, and our team is leveraging it internally to stay engaged and secure.
How Living Security supports teams: First, we worked to ensure the team was set up with laptops, monitors and software licenses. Every Friday, we provided the team with lunch in the office, so we sent them DoorDash gift cards to order food by delivery. Another key implementation was setting up a buddy program for new team members.
The founding team also had one-on-ones with each employee in the company to hear their feedback and identify opportunities to remove roadblocks. We encourage team members to share how they are feeling and how they and their families are being affected by COVID-19.
Most impactful change: We doubled down on our meeting culture, which we named “Meeting Magic.” Its goal is to align our meeting culture with our overall organizational culture, which means ensuring our meetings are inclusive, productive and collaborative.
We created a remote meeting guide that shines a light on areas that don’t translate seamlessly from in-person meetings. Now we’re using the Google Hangouts chat during conferences to celebrate happy news or ideas from the team and raise questions. It’s been a big shift from in-person meetings where one person speaks at a time to now being fully remote where the entire team can plus-one something the speaker said. Not everyone is comfortable jumping into a conversation and working remotely can make that even more difficult because we’ve lost body language cues. So, we’re being extra thoughtful about asking attendees if they have anything to add.
Remote engagement tools: We continue to use our peer-to-peer recognition platform Bonusly, which allows our team to give each other kudos for work that ladders up to our values, mission or vision. Bonusly ensures our team is aware of stellar work being done throughout the company and provides a launching point for conversations that may not happen otherwise.
Slack is more heavily used for company-wide chats. A “question of the day” prompt has allowed us to see childhood photos, learn everyone’s most memorable concert and hear each other’s favorite travel destination. We’ve also been sharing baked goods, art projects and more in the #quarantinecreations channel. Our culture team is planning a talent show for later this month.
How Square Root supports teams: We’ve been explicit in our communication that everyone’s schedule is different and we’re all giving each other a lot of grace. This flexibility helps our team feel supported and confident that they can schedule their day the way that works best for them. The company also gave everyone a budget for making their home offices “work-ready.” I was able to take home my monitor, IT gear and even rescued some of the office plants to make my space productive and energizing.
Some changes for remote work will be temporary, but many will fold into our culture long-term, as they add to our flexibility and collaborative nature. For example, I’m excited that our focus on mental health is something that will continue once we’re all back in the office.
Most impactful change: Fortunately, we work in an online business, so a switch to a fully remote team doesn’t have a significant impact on workflow. But it has allowed us to bring our people in two cities even closer in this new virtual reality. Every week, we have an all-hands meeting where teams share their latest updates and initiatives they are working on. We previously always did this as a separate meeting: one in Austin and one in Denver. This change has been nice and allows the team to have visibility into all aspects of what we work on. We’ll likely stick to a fully virtual, all-hands weekly meeting even after the world moves out of isolation.
Remote engagement tools: Our people are the driving force that allow us to navigate the current reality in a positive way by supporting each other. We’re doing all we can to try to maintain normalcy by finding fun ways to interact and hang out together. Our primary focus is working to ensure our people are safe and happy. To connect with one another, we’ve had an exclusive live concert for our team, along with playing family bingo, trivia, Pictionary and creating a number of online social clubs.
How AdAction supports teams: When we made the move to close our offices, we paid for our team members to have whatever tools and supplies they needed at home such as desks, monitors and chairs. But our emotional support is ongoing and what we need to continue to provide throughout this period of isolation. We will continue to engage with and check in on every one of our team members and their families. We aim to provide some outlet for fun and camaraderie outside of the physical spaces we’re confined to.