By Neal - 8/17/2021
People like to connect with other people. We’re social beings by nature. However, remote work presents challenges for creating human connections. As a remote team, we wanted to go above and beyond to ensure that our team was set up for success remotely. Doing so has helped us to establish a work life that encourages productivity and gives our employees what they seek mentally, socially, and physically.
By using specific approaches, we improved developer engagement, employee interactions, and individual productivity by 15%. We did this, as a company, by reducing stress, introducing flexible windows in which to work, emphasizing breaks, and reducing the number of video conferences during the day.
The pandemic gave a whole new meaning to workday stress. Even people who are not naturally social inclined that working remotely added to, and did not take away from, work-related anxieties.
People, working remotely during the pandemic, had problems with isolation. They need context change and people to connect to in person. Moreover, without an outlet to be social, they often found themselves working more.
To cover this concern, our business introduced mental health services to employees. Access to a therapist or counselor (for free) gave workers the motivation to forge ahead and see things more positively. Therefore, the additional cost we paid for the service was worth it.
Before remote work became a common buzz phrase, workers collaborated by following the same time frames in our company. However, this turned into a problem for people working at home during the COVID crisis, especially those with families. Starting at 8:00 am or 9:00 am became an issue when people had to juggle work with managing their kids’ activities.
To overcome this dilemma, we offered time schedules that mandated availability between the hours of 10:00 am and Noon and 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm during the business day. This new rule gave at-home workers the option of a later start time. In some cases, workers could schedule a regular lunch break with a loved one if they wished.
The whole idea of taking a break during the workday is to give the mind and body a chance to regroup. Overworking can lead to less productivity throughout the rest of the day, which can also impact how your team functions.
During the pandemic, we encourage our team members to take the last 5-10 minutes of each hour as a break. This ensures they remain mentally fresh throughout the day. When employees wanted to play a game of FreeCell in their ten minute break, one of the games we developed, we were thrilled.
Many of our workers complained, during the pandemic, about feeling overburdened by meetings on video. Some fussed about video engagement and how it made it difficult to focus on their work.
To accommodate workers, we decided to change more video meetings to chat-based gatherings. Discussing workday concerns via a platform, such as Slack, made all the difference in how our people worked, and made those meeting more efficient.
We also asked that each employee recap workday activities with brief emails of around 100 words. In it, they’d discuss what they accomplished, questions or challenges, and their plans for the next day. Adding this increased accountability and motivated our remote workers to improve their performance.
Through our employee engagement surveys, we found that our policies are working and employees believe they are 15% more productive. The worst thing we can do is settle for the status quo. We are still learning and working on improving our remote work culture.