Maintaining a strong culture – from a distance
While I’m sure the focus for many businesses will be around preparedness for what lies ahead, now’s the time to lean on your culture to help your team continue to be productive and happy. Get the IT sorted of course – but remember there are softer elements that come in to play.
Lean on your culture
Your team will be feeling anxious about the impact of the current situation and this could lead to uncertainty and lack of motivation. At a time of rapid change, your core values are the one constant in your business and will provide you and your staff with guiding principles of behaviour.
It’s time to dig them out and talk to your teams about how you are using them to guide your response to the current situation and your new way of working. This is how you will build and maintain a strong and cohesive working culture – regardless of distance.
Communication is still king
Without doubt the number one thing you need to do to keep your employees engaged, motivated and productive during this time is to communicate. And you need to step-up your game. Think for a second about all those daily interactions you have with your team outside of formal meetings. The morning meet and greet, the chat at the coffee machine, the informal “by the way”, the “have you heard” and the “what do you think” interactions that serve to connect your team and solve small work problems. These are an essential part of a healthy work life and without them culture starts to break down.
Check in with your team members every day and ask them to check in with their staff too. A daily 5 minute phone conversation will help iron out any issues and set up the workflow for the day. A quick call can resolve issues that will soon become bottlenecks and keep the work moving.
If you do daily team meetings – then maintain these as well. Encourage your teams to communicate with each other via message or phone as well as email. Emails can often feel distant and a quick phone call helps all connect a little better. This rings true for your clients also. A regular and personal check in with your clients will go a long way in maintaining relationships. Remember, the conversation does not always have to be about business. Now is the time to simply ask if there is any way we can help.
Take some time to ensure your team members have a good set-up at home or have clear guidelines on how to continue working safely. Talk to your employees about their work set-up, ask how they are coping with the changes and support them to develop a way of working that suits you both. Clarity, guidance and understanding at the beginning will set the tone for the next few weeks.
Shift to a productivity model
Be really clear about work expectations. It is important to understand that the 9-5 business model does not always work in this environment. Your staff will now be trying to juggle many things including children, family members, housemates, or solitude with work pressure. This will affect how and when they work. Move to a productivity model whereby you set your business goals, break them up and measure the productivity of your teams in these terms. Focus on progress reports and work milestones with clear deadlines. With staff working from home or at a distance from each other, work habits will change, and your business needs to adapt to this fast. Fostering a productive culture based on workflow will allow for the unusual circumstance we all find ourselves in while supporting your staff and giving them clarity about work expectations.
Keep up the banter!
Keeping your staff positive and managing isolation and loneliness is extremely important. Think about how you can lift the mood. If your team often goes for a coffee together – have a virtual coffee break together once a week. If you have a Friday after work drink – why not have quick a virtual beer on Skype or Zoom to end the week. These are small things that will keep your staff engaged and feeling less isolated during the lock down.
Open up the comms channels
One of our clients are working hard to make sure their team stays engaged via their team app. This keeps all of their 400+ staff in touch and up to date with what’s happening in the business. This just shows how important technology is at a time like this. There are plenty of channels available that can keep your team together and ready to go.
At times of uncertainty and change, go back to your core values and focus on developing a supportive, productive culture.