How to Keep Your Team Engaged When Working Remotely, Part I

April 21, 2020

Now that many companies have pivoted to remote work to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, some employees are encountering new obstacles: finding office space in the home, dealing with feelings of isolation, and for some, home-schooling children.

Providing equipment and furniture for employees transitioning to remote work is difficult enough. An even bigger challenge? Supplying the health and wellness resources employees need to work efficiently from home.

Tech tools like Slack, Zoom and G Suite make it easier than ever to communicate virtually, regardless of the challenge at hand. In part one of a three-part series, learn how teams across NYC are utilizing digital tech tools to support their teams, replicate office culture and foster cross-functional communication. 

 

Dimitre Boyukliev
Director of Executive Operations, Chief of Staff to the CEO and Founder

How Payfone is bolstering engagement and productivity:

“We quickly realized that engagement was essential and therefore launched several engagement initiatives where employees can participate in daily group activities and discussions to take their minds off of work and home,” said Dimitre Boyukliev, Payfone’s director of executive operations and chief of staff. “Overall, the clubs have been a huge success, allowing individuals from different departments and countries to get to know each other better and build bonds that they would not have otherwise. I guess the silver lining is that COVID-19 has brought our employees closer together.”

 

Tools for remote engagement:

Polly, an add-on for posting surveys on Slack, allows Payfone leaders to engage with the team and solicit real-time feedback on company-wide initiatives. Boyukliev added that daily team check-ins ensure spirits are high.

“Open and frequent communication is essential in maintaining engagement and productivity,” he said.

 

How Payfone is supporting employees:

“Our CEO, Rodger Desai, was very proactive in tasking the business continuity team as early as January when news of COVID-19 started surfacing to start planning for the transition to remote work because our people came first, and their safety and health are our top priority.” 

 

How HyperScience is bolstering engagement and productivity:

“Reliance on legacy technology and manual processes is holding up insurance claims, account processing, mortgage filings and more at a time when people need responses and answers quickly,” said Charlie Newark-French, the chief operating officer at HyperScience. “We believe that automation within the workplace will result in far better outcomes for our customers’ end customers and constituents. Today, that mission is more true than ever.”  

 

Tools of remote engagement:

For the global team at HyperScience, there already was a strong foundation for virtual collaboration before COVID-19 hit. Now, Newark-French said the team is more focused than ever on over-communication so people are aware of priorities and can easily connect with and support one another. 

 

How HyperScience is supporting employees:

“We are adapting every day to the new situation before us, and our leadership, managers and culture committee continue to solicit feedback and brainstorm new ways to keep our teams healthy, happy and productive,” he said. “We’ve been building in opportunities for employees and teams to get together and stay connected, whether that’s lunchtime workouts or morning breakfast or coffee check-ins similar to what we experience when everyone arrives at the office. We’re also keeping up with our biweekly wine & cheese happy hours to celebrate birthdays and hyper-versaries and weekly meditation sessions. Our people are our greatest asset, and their health and well-being continues to be top priority.”

 

Virtual events to maintain engagement:

  • Show and tell
  • Weekly, randomized coffee chats between employees
  • Lunch and learns
  • Best movie and TV show bracket tournament
  • Meditation sessions
  • Trivia
  • Happy hours

 

Richard Denton
People and Workplace Ops Manager

How Snaps is bolstering engagement and productivity:

“I think organizations that treat productivity in a vacuum risk sending a message of distrust around their employees’ motivation during time at home,” said Richard Denton, the people and workplace ops manager at Snaps.

At Snaps, Denton is focused on replicating office culture while working from home. Slack channels, Zoom lunch hours and work anniversary e-cards are a few methods he’s using. 

“I also make a point to have some contact with every employee each week, even if it’s just a quick ping to say hello,” Denton said. “Having a strong remote culture will draw your employees into this virtual environment and keep your team connected, supported, collaborative and on task.”

 

Tools for remote engagement:

As employees work remotely, the abundance of communication through emails, pings and virtual meetings can make it hard to prioritize heads-down work. Snaps has adapted an internal ticketing system that keeps project conversations separate from other challenges. It also reduces the need for redundant meetings.

 

How Snaps is supporting employees:

“Being a small company, I’m afforded the chance to check in with every employee directly and can leverage my previous experience working in mental health to help normalize appropriate conversations around needs that an employee may not know they can discuss with me.” 

 

Rachel Brotman
Senior Recruiter

How Handy is bolstering engagement and productivity:

According to Rachel Brotman, a senior recruiter at Handy, the company’s leadership team is aiming for transparency and trust through weekly emails and Zoom all-hands events. During check-ins, they share company wins, celebrate successes and host Q&As about the impact of COVID-19.

 

Tools for remote engagement:

Brotman named three tools she’s using for remote engagement: Trello, Culture Amp and Reflektive. 

“Trello allows us to keep track of deadlines for specific tasks, and its sharing component enables us to show the team what we are currently working on and prioritizing. Culture Amp allows us to check in on the status of our employees’ mental well-being, as well as collects feedback from our teams on what is working well. Reflektive’s platform enables us to celebrate individuals in the organization who are going above and beyond in supporting other employees, growing our platform and excelling in their role.” 

 

How Handy is supporting employees:

“We’ve encouraged employees to utilize Teladoc and Health Advocate as needed, and provided free trials to physical wellness programs such as Daily Burn,” she said.

According to Brotman, Handy is also maintaining an open door policy concerning remote work hardships, encouraging employees to meet with human resources to get support and additional resources. 

 

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