Though many businesses are taking steps towards returning to work, remote working is set to remain a key part of how we do business, with 45% of employees saying they’ll work remotely more often in the future according to our latest piece of research.
But without the ‘water cooler chat’, sharing lunch together or just seeing people face-to-face, how can you keep that sense of being a team? How can you keep people engaged?
Yesterday we brought together industry experts to discuss how the UK workforce has been impacted by lockdown and the challenges HR teams face as people start to head back to the workplace.
Both our panelists and participants shared some of their top tips for communicating with and engaging remote teams.
Susie Sigsworth - HR Officer, Reward and Wellbeing, Church of England
“Every day since lockdown began our organisation has held a remote coffee morning at 11.15 for anyone to drop into as a way to overcome the social isolation. We’ve also introduced a quiet hour 1-2pm to allow people to take a break and for no meetings or calls to be arranged.”
Debbie Middlemas - Head of HR, Ramsden International
Debbie and her team recognised that there was a lot of anxiety about what the office would be like with all the social distancing measures in place. To help remove the mystery from returning to work, they’ve been doing live Zoom tours of the office changes so people know exactly what to expect when they come back.
Carol Chumley, HR Officer, Seaco Global
“We are doing what Cathy mentioned - a weekly coffee morning chat, a quiz, thank goodness for Microsoft Teams!”
Jess Mace - Wellbeing, Westfield Health
To keep our own team engaged, Jess has been organising weekly team quizzes on Thursday or Friday afternoons as well as working with our Performance Coach, Levi, to deliver a full programme of remote fitness and wellbeing classes each week. We’re also introducing wellbeing webinars to help people understand how to look after themselves at this difficult time and keeping everyone up to date through whole-company town hall meetings with our CEO.
Natalie Wilson, Marketing, Events, Social Media and Business Development, ProAktive
“At ProAktive we finish our week off with a Quiz on Teams for the whole company”.
Carole Holden, Customer Services Manager at Coilcraft
Our company has a Webex Café where colleagues can go meet as they perhaps would normally do when onsite. It’s open to all & even those employees who work remotely as normal can join in.
Liz Goodbrand, Head of Marketing, Westfield Health
“Working remotely you miss out on some of the day-to-day conversations that help a team to work well together. We’ve been adding a bit of fun onto the end of our team meetings with a game of scattegories to give us a creative boost and make time to laugh together as a team”.
Other ideas for staying connected whilst working remotely
Make sure people are taking regular breaks and staying in touch by scheduling five to ten minute active breaks during the day. Join a video call to take a walking break, do some stretches or even try a five-minute workout.
Make one day a week a sociable lunch - put names of people from around the business that would like to take part into a hat (or spreadsheet!) and pair up people to be lunch buddies. People from across the business get to know each other whilst creating an interesting break in the day.
This weekend I..
Create a picture collage of the different things people got up to that weekend to share with the wider team. It’ll help you get to know each other better, but may also give others some inspiration of what to do with lockdown weekends.
Skill share hours
Combine socialising and professional development with a skill share hour. People from across the business host a short talk and Q&A session about something they’re good at or a skill they use often, allowing others to learn and get to know their teammates better.
Whether it’s a new starter, someone leaving or just chatting away the end of the work week, team drinks can be an important social occasion. Recreate them with a virtual happy hour on Friday afternoons to mark the end of the week.
Through the keyhole
Recreate a nineties classic and get to know each other better by seeing if you can match a photo of a room in the house to the team member - no cheating: make sure it’s not the room you usually work from.
Win of the week
It can be harder to know what everyone’s delivering whilst working remotely. Keep morale high and celebrate achievements with a virtual win of the week. Ask one person to collect nominations from other team members to make it interactive.