COVID-19 was a big disruptive force at the workplace. Employees are adapting to working remotely. Organizations are striving to ensure that remote workers remain efficient and productive. In the absence of face-to-face interaction, communication and rapport are no less important.

COVID-19

Creative employee motivation

Organizations are finding creative ways to engage remote workers. A survey conducted by the Harvard Business School in October interviewed 600 CEOs. Many of them said that they were concerned with keeping workers motivated through the crisis. Workplace insights published by Washington-based analytics firm Gallup state that employee engagement hit an all-time high of 40% in July. More workers are highly involved, passionate, and committed to their work. This trend indicates that employers are better prepared to handle the ongoing disruption at work.

To ensure that workers stay motivated, organizations turned to creative initiatives. Team activities such as virtual board games, movie nights, dedicated talk space, and virtual escape rooms are becoming common. A report by Forbes said that Swiss bank UBS is giving its non-executives an extra week’s pay to appreciate their contributions during the crisis. Other firms including PayPal, Mastercard, Slack, LinkedIn, and Amazon have implemented long-term work-from-home strategies.

Virtual onboarding

The changes in workplace culture have made it necessary for structured, sophisticated, remote onboarding. According to a survey by Boston-based talent acquisition firm Workable, onboarding and training have become significant challenges. Employers have had to devise ways of giving new hires extra attention. They do this by introducing team building exercises like happy hours and creative meetings. New hires participate in these activities as early as their first days. In an interview with Forbes the CEO of transcription startup Flint noted that the lack of constant communication with new hires makes them feel unsure and unstable. To counter this, managers should offer more assistance in the beginning. This could be in the form of helping with tech setup or organizing welcoming activities like virtual get-togethers. Other communication strategies towards new hires include scheduled calls, regular well-being surveys, and 1:1 meetings between new joiners and tenured employees.

Teamwork and collaboration

More organizations are making the shift to working from home. They recognize the need for professional tools that enable workplace meetings and socializing sessions. Tools like Zoom, Microsoft teams, Skype, and Slack took the front row in employee engagement tactics. According to CNBC, Zoom’s daily users increased from 10 million in December 2019 to 200 million in March 2020. CNBC reported that Zoom doubled its annual sales forecast.

Apps like Zoom enable several users to join the same call. This enhances the work from home experience and social connection between team members. According to American technology news website The Verge, virtual collaboration tool Microsoft Teams recorded a 50% increment in users between March and November. As of November the number of its active daily users stands at over 115 million. Microsoft’s Chief Executive Satya Nadella noted that the company “witnessed 2 years worth of digital transformation in two months”. This trend shows that organizations are striving to maintain digital workflows while ensuring social belonging and interaction among workers.

Employee well-being

A large proportion of the US workforce is migrants. For them, the priority is to transfer money back to their families as remittances. The COVID-19 crisis seriously threatened their ability to keep doing so. However, things have gradually improved. Recent developments in workplace culture indicate an increase in employee well-being and empathetic leadership. According to Forbes, 89% of employers have devised measures to ensure that employees feel supported during this time. Harvard Business Review reported that Adobe is giving its workers a day off every third Friday of the month to unplug and recharge. Some companies are providing access to self-care options such as online workout subscriptions.

Forbes noted that this trend is an indication. Employers are getting the message that employees need a lot of support in this time of workplace disruption. A survey on employee engagement by research firm Quantum Workplace found a rise in employees’ view that “Our culture supports my well being”. A significant percentage of respondents agreed that their jobs give them the flexibility to meet their work and personal needs. More organizations are offering benefits that can help employees manage stress. Experts debate what the future of work will look like. In an interview with MSN, Jes Staley, CEO of Barclays opined that “The notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past.”

About the author:

Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.