Millions of people have been getting a crash course in working from home during the pandemic, and for all the funny Zoom meeting interruptions by pets and children, we’ve been getting the work done.
The social impact of this crisis will be studied for years, but the impromptu mass experiment in working from home may shape the future of work in unexpected ways. One thing we’ll need to think through is how to create and maintain strong company cultures when we’re not all under the same roof.
It’s not a new challenge. Remote work arrangements have been growing in popularity for decades, but now that more of us are working from home than ever before, it’s a great time to identify some best practices. Here are three things I’ve learned:
We Need to See Each Other
At my company, the all-remote experience has been mainly positive. We’ve stayed incredibly productive, and morale is high.
That didn’t happen by accident. We HR professionals and managers took deliberate actions to maintain contact with employees and engage people as human beings. Frequent meetings with our cameras on is one way we incorporate the human element into the work-from-home experience. Sure, it means you have to comb your hair and tidy up the visible portions of your workspace, but we find that the benefits of seeing each other’s faces outweigh those minor inconveniences.
We also make a point to ask how people are doing, inquire about their families, and engage in casual conversation instead of keeping strictly to business during our weekly meetings. The chitchat that used to happen in the company breakroom is important for team-building. It can be replicated virtually, but doing so takes conscious effort. One technique we use is “Tell me something good”: To close out meetings, we ask everyone to share something good that happened in their life recently. The news doesn’t have to be work-related; it’s about making human connections.
Giving Back Generates Priceless Returns
Another lesson we’ve learned is that nothing brings our people together and strengthens our culture more than our giving initiatives. We are a graphical user interface (GUI) company, and our vision is to have our technology reach and enhance the lives of every human on earth. Our charitable work reflects our company values and provides a way for employees to use their time and talent for a good cause.
Before the pandemic struck, we worked with underserved local schools, providing mentorship and training to help at-risk..