In the face of COVID-19, we’ve all had to make sacrifices in our work and personal lives. Luckily in 2020, it’s completely viable for many businesses to have their employees work remotely. We can conduct meetings, share data, and communicate in real-time. Before the outbreak, many of my colleagues worked from home one or two days every week. At Valiant, we knew we had the infrastructure to get work done. However, with almost everyone working from home, do we have the infrastructure to maintain office morale?
The Microsoft Office 365 application suite is rife with tools to connect effectively and keep a team productive. It turns out that you can use the same technology that optimizes productivity to cultivate office morale. A big one for Valiant is Teams, which is our primary chat application. We have group chats where colleagues trade photos of their pets (who all seem happy to have their humans home).
Teams has mostly replaced my phone for contacting my coworkers and even client meetings. The ability to share what I’m looking at or just see a friendly face when I’m remote is super helpful for the type of conversations I need to have.
It may seem obvious, but work has now become one of the only consistencies in this strange time. Be sure you’re addressing some of the employee’s social needs as well.
Tips and Tools for Maintaining Morale
As mentioned above, Teams is a primary mechanism for connectivity/productivity for Valiant employees. Most simply, it’s a chat platform, but you can also jump on video calls and conference calls. There are several similar applications that your office may use: Slack, Zoom, and Google Hangouts, to name a few. Get creative with these platforms!
This may be obvious, but now that most of us are working remotely, a lot of things can get lost in translation. When you’re in an office, you can poke your head into your superior’s office to get a quick clarification, or you can lean over to a trusted colleague to ask for advice or input. When you work remotely, you must be more intentional about these communications. Check-in with coworkers, ask for clarification, and state expectations.
Keep Your Rituals
This piece of advice is a classic for anyone who’s ever worked remotely. If you have coffee ready when you sit down to start your day in your office, do that in your home office. If you try to fit a workout in before you go to the office, try to keep that going while at home. For me, the biggest (and simplest) one that keeps me sane is getting dressed in office-appropriate attire. It’s a signal to myself that my workday has stated.
Tips and Tools for Boosting Morale
Netflix Party is a new Google Chrome extension that allows you to watch content with other viewers and chat with them in real-time! Co-workers can organize watching something while having a remote happy hour!
Remote Office Happy Hour/Pizza Party/ Dungeons and Dragons Game?
After a good day of remote work, invite your colleagues to a video chat where everyone can share a drink or a slice of pizza. A remote board game is also a good way to keep people engaged in the call. These activities can serve as short check-ins and provide some much-needed social stimulation.
Virtual Dance Parties
Some companies, like NMPi are having virtual dance parties in the afternoon. According to an article in Digiday, they’re doing this to replace those “serendipity moments when you speak to people when you make coffee or walk past their desk—all that stuff is just gone so we’re just trying to do anything we can to recreate that…” NMPi’s parent company, Incubeta, has implemented a 5-minute dance party every afternoon for their employees, with the aim of boosting their staff’s energy and morale.
Learning to work from home is an adjustment for many workers. This abrupt change in our work landscape can be disorienting, but we can use our technology to stay connected. While your team commits to staying productive, make a commitment to stay socially connected. Whatever works for your team, whatever creates a little laughter and a little joy, is worth it. We don’t know how long this collective isolation will last, and we’re all in this together.