Boss Lady

How to create camaraderie for your work-at-home employee

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In this new, modern era of business, many companies are choosing to let employees work from home for the foreseeable future. Though this started as a necessary response to the pandemic, it has shifted how we see the possibilities of working from home, with many employers making the switch at least partially permanent. There are many benefits to creating a business model that allows employees to work from home. It saves on office rental space, decreases commutes, and can even increase productivity as employees are given the reign to control their own schedules and work at their best.

However, one drawback of working from home is that the social life of the office can be lost. The casual conversations, ‘dropping by’ someone’s desk to solve a problem, and the shared lunchtimes, are all important parts of creating that elusive feeling of camaraderie, the sense that you are all working towards a common goal. This has benefits for morale, employee retention, and the quality of your work. But how can you recreate this camaraderie in a socially-distanced company?

Carefully time your video calls

When you first make the move to home working, you may be tempted to arrange regular check-ins with your team, in the form of department meetings, beginning-of-day sign-ins, and end-of-day catch-ups. Whilst your intentions here are brilliant – to create interaction and a sense of accountability – they can end up doing more harm than good. Working at home can be a distracting prospect, and your employees won’t thank you for taking time out of their day for tokenistic Zoom calls when they could be getting on with their work. Many people find constant video calling a stressful and tiring experience, and too many of them can seriously impact their productivity. So, yes, video catch-ups are great, but make sure you time them carefully and try to limit them to one a day (or every two days) so you’re not overloading your employees.

Send out swag

What did your offices have that your employee’s WFH environments don’t? That’s right – company identity. Chances are, you have branded pens, possibly a reception with your company logo, and visual reminders of your branding all over the place. When employees are suddenly working without these stimuli, they can feel as if they are acting in a vacuum. The answer to this? Swag! Ordering company-branded, useful gifts to your employees is a fantastic way to make them feel valued and help them to build the best home working space possible. There are plenty of company swag ideas out there, but some of the best include posh organizing equipment to keep their desks under control, custom self-care kits for their time off, eco-friendly and branded swag including face masks and hand sanitizer, and even customized onboarding kits for your new employees who may never come into the office.

Create social experiences

Having social time for your employees to bond and create bonds of camaraderie can feel impossible in a socially distanced context. After all, if you’re spending your whole workday sat in front of your desktop, potentially on Zoom calls with colleagues, the last thing you want to do at the end of the day is log back into another video chat, even if it is with a glass of wine in tow. One way to make this a more enticing prospect is to investigate activities that can be played online together by your company. For example, many theatre shows have developed interactive murder mysteries that take place through Zoom, where you can work in teams and use notepads to solve a crime. Team building games like this can be a great way to create social experiences that do not simply rely on the same format as your conference calls.

Encourage communication

Finally, the best way to create a positive atmosphere for your WFH employees is by using the same techniques as you would in person. The key to all these techniques is communication. Encourage your employees to find ways of communicating with each other whilst they work that work for them. Not every question will need a phone call, for example, and setting up a platform such as Slack can help people contact each other for smaller inquiries. Consider having a social channel as well, perhaps using Whatsapp so that the atmosphere of office conversations can continue. Whilst it’s important these don’t distract too much from work itself, creating an environment where your employees feel supported and safe, and like they function as a team, wherever they are working from.

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