Like the rest of you, Swyft Filings has adjusted operations. While we already had a handful of employees working remotely or partially remote, we now have a few more people working remotely while we wait for COVID-19 to pass. Regardless of where we’re working from, be that our office or our homes, Swyft Filings continues to provide the same great service and handle the paperwork. Given our experience keeping remote employees engaged, we’ve offered these tips on how you can do the same.
1. Require “good mornings” and “goodbyes.”
Swyft Filings already used Slack as a communication tool when the vast majority worked together in the same office. More so than ever, we’re now using it for both serious communications and to keep everyone engaged. Every morning, everyone checks in on their team channel with a simple “good morning.” Many of the team members organically began to include amusing gifs to start the day. This has started a tradition of themed memes or gifs to start the day with a little smile.
The same thing happens at the end of the day with a simple sign off. The idea is that when an employee leaves the office, they usually say goodbye to everyone, so the team uses Slack to do the same. It would be rude to show up at the office without a “good morning” or a “goodbye” when you leave, so make sure the same applies online.
2. Let employees have fun on communication tools.
Sometimes, you have to be more intentional about employee engagement, especially with teams not used to using these tools or working remotely. For example, when Swyft Filings’ president worked from home for a day, while his kids were also home from school, he asked the team for some good dad jokes while starting with his favorites. The team used that as an excuse to provide bad dad jokes throughout the day including these, um, zingers.
Did you hear about the chameleon who couldn't change color?
He had a reptile dysfunction.
I could tell you a joke I heard from my watch…but that would be second-hand information.
This bad joke resulted in a day’s worth of puns with numerous contributors from the team.
My house got robbed yesterday, they only took the lamps. I was delighted.
I have more missing lamp jokes but I don't think y'all are ready for that kind of dark humor.
We don’t take those kinds of jokes lightly.
You guys are pretty bright.
[Name not disclosed to protect joke reputations] coming in with the lit punch lines.
We all have our strengths. Swyft Filings excels at corporate filings and not necessarily jokes. The point is to keep the team engaged and try to recreate the office vibe as much as you can.
3. Require 1:1 checks on the team level.
Hopefully, your teams are already a manageable size so that direct supervisors can check in with their teammates over the phone once per day. The call can simply be a check-in to see how the employee is doing, confirming they have everything they need, and making sure they don’t have any questions. Because the remote work environment may be new to many folks, a comforting daily call can help reassure the employees that they are not on an island.
4. Keep doing your typical engagement activities on a modified basis.
Swyft Filings was planning on doing a typical March Madness office pool. With that canceled, Swyft Filings HR Generalist Kristine Tippin shifted into a new competition that has generated more interest. She calls it “March Madness Com-PET-tition.” Rather than college basketball teams squaring off, the employees submitted a picture of their pets and there will be a daily vote from the employees on the cutest pet until only one survives. The winner receives a $50 pet store gift card and will determine which local pet rescue group gets a donation from the company.
If there was an activity planned, then try to keep some form of that activity alive during this time. “Working remotely can be a huge adjustment for employees, especially those who enjoy the social aspect of being in an office,” Tippin said. “It’s important to engage people and build a sense of community online even when we can’t physically see each other every day. Activities like this encourage employees to continue the more lighthearted, non-work-related conversations that are so essential to cultivating coworker relationships.”
5. Take advantage of the available technology.
Because there are plenty of articles that focus on the tools to help with remote employees, this one came last. Swyft Filings is getting more out of Slack than it used to, taking advantage of its voting features, video calls, and screen sharing capabilities. It also utilizes Hubstaff for employees to monitor productivity and time management. Hopefully, your company already had basic metrics on employee productivity and they can still be measured with more of the team working remotely.
While these are unique times for companies, it is important for all of us to continue focusing on culture and employee engagement. While health and safety are the number one priority right now, finding ways to keep remote employees engaged will not only help with their mental health, it is likely going to help with their productivity and loyalty.