How Can Companies Build Collaborative & Innovative Working Environments When WFH?
Even as recently as 2019, working from home seemed like just a benefit that a lucky few could enjoy. Come 2020, it has become the norm for millions, and the days of lengthy commutes and small talk in the office hallways are over. Whilst the orders to stay at home were met with excitement by many, it is no secret that a not-so-bright side of WFH became evident only a few weeks after.
As the popularity of Zoom, and similar apps such as project management software, started to experience rocket-like growth, so did concerns regarding the effect of a prolonged lack of face-to-face interactions between coworkers and bosses. How can productivity stay afloat or increase when working from home? Is there a way to foster company culture and collaboration in the times of Covid-19?
These were vital questions that we also faced at Mediareach, so we have decided to share some tips that we have either implemented or are considering to implement:
Plan Better for Direct Communication
Without physical cues to guide a conversation, there is plenty of room for misunderstandings. And in any type of business, even a simple point that was not correctly interpreted could jeopardise an entire project. Such situations tend to have a negative impact on the working environment. Therefore, the next time you draft an email or a whatsapp message, take a few seconds to consider if the other person is fully familiar with the context of what you are saying.
Research has found that brainstorming sessions are the most challenging aspect of working from home. In order to tackle the effect of distance on the creative process, the first step is to establish a clear outline on why the session is even taking place; think of what you expect to come out of it and what are the possible tools or pieces of information your team may need. But most importantly, keep the session interactive so that all participants stay engaged.
Foster comradeship among employees
In the absence of physical contact or small talk at shared lunch breaks, bonding becomes difficult for employees, especially new recruits. This can negatively affect communication and, ultimately, productivity. Whilst offices will always be the best place to create and foster your company’s culture, adapting to the present circumstances is actually easier than one could expect.
For instance, team building activities such as home tours, show & tell, or coffee sessions, can greatly contribute to a more positive working environment. Some companies have resorted to distance pizza parties during which all employees are delivered a pizza at home and eat in the company of their colleagues. Remote birthday or promotion parties are also a great initiative to boost morale and companionship.
Provide your team with the best tools
In the times of Covid-19, having an easily accessible platform where your employees can find all the information they need, or to quickly communicate with their colleagues, is essential. Therefore, if you’re not using one already, take the time to analyse the different options available and find the most suitable for your company. According to Techradar, the top 5 tools you should keep an eye on are Office 365, Slack, Asana, Podio and Ryver. We personally recommend Slack; it’s like corporate whatsapp on Red Bull!
Use the extra time to your advantage
We all have a certain time of the day during which our brain becomes more productive. If you happen to be a night owl, rather than a morning person, working from home may be the ideal opportunity to create a schedule that coincides with these hours of increased activity whenever possible. For companies with international offices, this flexibility can be hugely beneficial, as deep thinking meetings where overseas colleagues take part can be scheduled at more favourable times.
Plan for the future
As Europe grapples with the long-feared second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, we may keep working from home for the foreseeable future. Therefore, make sure to have the proper guidance on how to foster a more collaborative and creative environment so that your company’s productivity does not suffer. Consider writing and sharing such a guide with your staff. In the end, the benefits of remote working are real and proven, and capitalising from them is up to you.