Engagedly Developing Culture in the Remote Workforce

COVID-19 and the subsequent restrictions have forced a lot of companies to take their entire workforce almost entirely online – focussing much more on work from home than coming to the office and spending their day in a cubicle. In the absence of a personal touch and most business being conducted through Zoom, it becomes slightly difficult to build a developed business culture for a remote workforce, but not impossible. In this article, we discuss several performance management tools that can help you do so. 

Performance Management – Why Do We Need It? 

For teams that did not work from home or remotely in the past, the sudden shift to a WFH culture can be quite overwhelming. Different people react differently to such changes: while some employees might actually thrive in this environment and become more productive because of the lack of distractions (you’re not bumping into someone every 15 minutes at the water cooler), others might find themselves burnt out. 

Working from home also brings with it a lack of personal connection – for those whose jobs revolve around interacting with people, productivity might take a hit. Additionally, people often feel the need to overcompensate for how long they’re working – they’re so desperate to be seen as someone who’s not slacking off that it often leads to them overworking and suffering from fatigue. 

Also read: How to promote employee wellbeing at workplace?

Employee Engagement – Things That Work

Organizations have taken to adopting a variety of mechanisms to ensure that even in the virtual world, their workforce can still enjoy a high level of engagement. One such idea is the Swedish custom of Fika – daily meetings where people take 15-20 minutes out of their day to sit with the rest of the team and drink coffee while talking about anything outside of work. It could be Netflix shows that they might have seen to their vacation plans – it allows them to destress for a while before getting back to work.

Another idea is the use of virtual pubs across different time zones – this can be a wonderful place for employees to hangout and interact with different team members. Additionally, it can allow for the humanization of management in the eyes of the employees, leading to more close-knit and collaborative teams within the organization. 

Working across Time Zones – Find the Rhythm 

Most organizations work across a variety of different time zones, and in such cases, finding the right organizational rhythm can be quite challenging – especially when working from home. Different cultures can have their personal lives structured differently – maybe a single parent can’t take meetings during lunch because they have to feed their family, or maybe their sleep cycle has changed. 

In such cases, communication becomes the key – and it can ensure that no one is overworking. By letting others in the team know what time slots employees are and aren’t available in, they can ensure that meetings can be set according to their convenience. This responsibility also falls on the shoulders of the managers, who have to ensure that meetings are being held in a way that does not interfere with the personal work rhythms of the employees. 

Collaborative Tools and Performance Management 

Because of the shift towards remote working, organizations have also seen an increase in their demand for tools that can allow them to manage everything more effectively. For example, most companies use Slack for their internal messaging needs, often relying on platforms like Zoom or WebEx for meeting needs. A particularly interesting step that organizations sometimes take is having a “camera-in” policy in their meetings. Under this, unless an employee has a specific reason for not wanting their camera on, they are encouraged to turn their camera on in meetings, which allows for greater personalization. 

Besides this, other tools can also be used. For example, organizations can use tools like Trello, Asana, or some other Monday alternative for their project management., and GSuite products like GDocs and Sheets for sharing documents across the firm. 

Also read: Performance Management Tools And Techniques To Drive Employee Engagement

The Future of WFH – Balancing Tech With Employee Engagement

It is hard to say when organizations will confidently choose to go back to working from office, and how employees would react to that. A school of thought is that the WFH culture would become much more prominent, leading to a healthy balance of technology and human interactions. 

What some firms have already done is allow employees to work from home almost the entire week, and have one day where they have to come into the office. However, this day is then reserved for tasks that are best done in person, such as white boarding or brainstorming. Such organizations then see the future of the office as being more of a social environment than a place where people sit and work in isolation. 

Employee Recognition in the WFH Culture 

Employee recognition is a major part of how organizations ensure that their workforce is motivated and feels valued – and it can significantly impact employee morale. In the WFH era, employee recognition also becomes more challenging, since you cannot really have conferences where you recognize impressive achievements made by employees. 

Therefore, a better solution has to be found. One thing that has been done recently is to make it more of a personal event for the employees than a professional one – for example, hiring an Animal Farm to take the office around a farm (virtually) and show them all the different animals, and then using this opportunity to applaud and recognize employees in front of their families and friends instead of simply their peers. 

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