A recent survey states that 39% of the 1,000 adults surveyed would consider resigning if their employers had no remote work system. This trend of people moving on from their jobs during the pandemic has affected the nonprofit sector tremendously and left many scrambling to secure new and qualified job applicants.
For CEOs, executives, and managers, the solution to keep staff from walking out is to be flexible about remote work. However, many organizational leaders are concerned about how workplace culture can thrive if no one is in the office.
Accepting that the pandemic has shifted long standing business practices isn’t easy, but it is necessary. Here are five strategies for adapting to the shifting professional environment and making working virtually a healthy and thriving part of your organizational culture.
1. Adopt a Growth Mindset
Instead of looking for ways to return workers to the office full-time and go back to the way things were, consider how working virtually can be an opportunity for growth. I can’t emphasize how much this mindset has helped my clients build healthier and happier work cultures. For example, you could cut the cost of your lease and for less money rent out a fun shared workspace to train new team members or iterate new ideas across many teams.
2. Communicate with Empathy
Organizational culture thrives from healthy communication. So, you’ll need to continue to show up online and maintain that face-to-face presence, albeit virtually. For example, when leading Zoom meetings, be mindful and fully present. Give your complete attention to all of the participants using your best verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Ask the group to monitor the chat function and flag the Zoom leader when something important arises. Watch your meetings flourish in the weeks ahead.
Understand that your team consists of real people living real lives. Be lenient when it comes to your team’s need to balance child care, mental and emotional stress, and sometimes needing to take calls from audio only. Understanding that you and your team members are coping with the new norms of virtual work is key to staying connected without being out of touch.
3. Shorten Messages
When leading video meetings, consider keeping them short and direct while also ensuring human interaction to keep everyone’s interest. Not only are video meetings prone to distraction, they can cause fatigue as well. To keep your team productive and value their time, schedule meetings only when necessary. Experiment with communication tools like Slack and message each other in lieu of relying on video huddles. Try recording meetings (with the participants’ permission), so that the info can be accessed in case unavoidable situations occur.
4. Offer Emotional Support
Working virtually can often leave some staff feeling socially isolated. To combat this, host virtual social activities to stay connected that team members themselves can lead. This strategy ties with the previous tip calling for empathetic communication.
Virtual social activities could include virtual happy hours, sessions dedicated to sharing inspiration, or even a virtual escape room.
Also, make it clear that you, as a leader, are available to talk through any challenges your team may be facing. Let them know you are available by video or phone to talk.
Lastly, provide resources for mental and emotional wellness that can be easily accessed. From experience, my clients tell me how valued they feel when this occurs. For example, try allocating funds for workout classes or food delivery from healthy restaurants.
5. Don’t Just Pivot, Level Up!
Don’t simply view this shift as a pivot. It can be much more than that. Remote work can offer opportunities to boost your organization’s efficiency and culture.
Use human design and ask your staff what they appreciate about working virtually. Use that as a jumping board to offer exciting new opportunities.
Also, ask your team members what type of benefits they would like to help cope with the stresses of working from home. This shows that you’re not only committed to making the change to remote work, you’re all in on helping your staff thrive through it.
Determining the best strategies to move forward amid these changes isn’t a cakewalk. It requires grit, determination, flexibility, empathy, and openness. You’ll have to revisit where you see your organization is going over the next 3 years and beyond.
I have helped leaders navigate the shift to working remotely while building plans for success, not just staying afloat. Reach out to me to fortify a plan for your organization and transform this global challenge into a golden opportunity.