With offices and clients all over the country, we already had a lot of remote work technology and practices in place pre-pandemic. Teams messages were buzzing, video conferencing was commonplace, and our company-wide project management system was keeping everything running smoothly. We could work with anyone from anywhere.
Yet despite our preparedness, we experienced a huge learning curve when COVID-19 sent everyone home without warning. We worked really hard those first few months to make sure that every team member was able to safely and comfortably do our jobs and continue serving our clients. There were definitely some hiccups along the way, but after almost a year and a half of working remotely and supporting our clients through their own transitions, we’ve learned some important lessons on how the workplace will need to adjust as we move towards our new normal. From flexible work arrangements to having fun happy hours (virtual, of course!), here are a few tips for navigating this reshaped working world.
Tap into the need for flexibility
Every person you ask will likely have their own opinion on how remote work impacts culture and productivity, so there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to determining how organizations should proceed with remote work in the post-pandemic world. However, it’s important to listen to your team’s needs, particularly when it comes to flexibility in where they work.
Accordingly to a recent FlexJobs survey, 65% of respondents said they want to remain full-time remote workers after the pandemic, with 58% of workers reporting that they would “absolutely” look for a new job if they weren’t allowed to continue working remotely in their current position. In fact, many workers would give up benefits ranging from vacation time to pay to matching retirement contributions in order to maintain a hybrid work arrangement.
As we move forward, organizations that embrace flexible work arrangements in a way that addresses its team’s needs will fare far better with recruitment, employee satisfaction, and retention.
Schedule regular check-ins, meetings, and status updates
Regularly scheduled meetings, whether one-on-ones or team meetings, help employees feel like they are an integral part of the team and organization. Even if a role is largely independent, having an expected time to connect with coworkers and managers staves off loneliness, increases productivity, and fosters a sense of community. Moreover, these meetings also keep team members accountable, as contributions carry more weight when a meeting with managers and teammates is on the calendar.
Be mindful of communication methods
As much as we all love being able to see each other when we couldn’t physically be with each other, it’s critical to find a balance between video calls, emails, and chats.
Deferring to an email or a few quick IMs when you’re balancing a full workload seems like the obvious choice, but video calls are extremely important when it comes to successfully working remotely. Many of us bemoaned video calls at first—when you’re not used to them, they can feel somewhat invasive. But we all got on board when it became abundantly clear just how useful a quick video chat is for effectively communicating and cultivating connections. In fact, there’s a whole field of study that determined that the elements of personal communication are 7% spoken, 38% voice and tone, and 55% body language.
On the flip side, video call fatigue is real. Not every exchange needs a face-to-face discussion. Similar to when we all worked in the office, treat video calls as you would in-person meetings and be mindful of when a video call could be more beneficial as a simple email or instant message.
While the office dress code might be out the window, there’s a benefit to changing out of your pajamas and combing your hair before sitting down at your desk. Getting yourself physically ready for the day helps you get mentally ready for the day.
When working from home, it can be hard to switch gears from down time to work time, from parenting a toddler to managing a team. Even something as simple as putting on your work sweater or donning your office slippers can help you better shift into work mode.
Stay connected (and make it fun!)
Personal connections are vital to overall happiness at work, and one pre-pandemic tradition that’s important to continue is making time for you and your team to step away from your desks and celebrate holidays, wins, and milestones together. As team dynamics shift with more organizations going back to the office or establishing a hybrid arrangement, it’s critical to keep nurturing these personal connections.
Do you have a killer idea to commemorate an upcoming holiday? Share it with your team and create a celebratory event that you can all partake in. Was your team’s work recognized by your peers or clients? Take the time to acknowledge it and bask in the win with a virtual happy hour. Did you participate in the pandemic pet adoption trend? Don’t leave your teammates out from experiencing this new joy in your life—in fact, bring your new fur baby to your next video meeting to get properly acquainted with your team.
Nearly a year and a half after COVID-19 took storm, more and more organizations and employees are seeing remote work or a hybrid work model as the new normal. And like many other organizations, we at TLC are still trying to discern the best path forward to ensure ease and efficiency for our employees, clients, and vendors alike. Our take on this will continue to develop, and our experience will surely shape how we work in the years to come.
What tips do you have?
How have you adjusted to remote work? What tips would you add to this list? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.