In a time of uncertainty, social isolation can compound the foreboding being felt across the globe. While many people are quite literally isolated, there is a sense of connectedness that needs to be excavated from the apprehension.
Strategies to Stay Connected through the Distance
As a global team, our associates are experiencing varying levels of severity of COVID-19. Our Italian team, who is in the trenches right now, has developed new ways to keep their communities connected through this difficult time. At 6 pm every night, the musicians throughout Pavia Italy open their windows and collectively play music for the town to hear; reimagining ways to create through the devastation.
This awe-inspiring act is one of many ways our associates have employed to cope with the current crisis.
As many companies are working remotely for the first time, we felt it useful to share the strategies we’ve established to ensure our employees remember that they’re not alone, while avoiding disruption for our clients. While technology makes it easier than ever to work remotely, keeping employees engaged, productive and mentally healthy requires additional effort from the leadership team.
Establish Strong Leadership:
The importance of leadership cannot be understated in times like these. When leadership falls silent, the disquiet among associates can be deafening. In bleak and uncertain times, employees need a leader who is willing to make decisions and communicate a clear plan of action for his or her team.
Each week since the onset of COVID-19, the CEO of Adept Group has sent out an email recognizing the changes that are impacting our daily lives. He takes the time to outline action plans to provide a clear vision in the coming weeks, provides anecdotes of inspiration from our associates across the globe, and motivates our team to continue leveraging our strengths as we fight toward a common goal.
This communication not only serves to keep our associates informed but provides a point person to go to with concerns which he is happy to shoulder. Maintaining focus through chaotic times is essential to keep productivity high and priorities in order.
Shift your priorities:
Another tell-tale sign of strong leadership is a clear vision. Understanding that the changes to our daily lives will restrict our capabilities is vital to the development of clear priorities. In other words, do what you can do, adapt whatever possible and deprioritize what’s left.
Encourage Open and Frequent Communication:
In order to keep a finger on the pulse of the mental and emotional health of the company during this trying time, it’s critical to establish judgment-free open communication.
During 2019, the Adept Group made a pledge to eradicate the stigma around mental health in our work environment and encourage employees to share, speak up and ask for the help they need. As the stress of the situation weighs on our teammates, it’s more important than ever that they feel they have somewhere to turn and a support system in place, even if it’s physically at a distance.
Beyond promoting open communication, frequent discussions and check-ins encourage employees to be engaged. Since the onset of COVID-19, our culture committee has made an effort to start the day with a question, quote, picture challenge, etc. to get the entire group interacting.
As a globally dispersed company, video conferencing does a tremendous job of bringing our employees closer together, even under normal circumstances. Being able to interpret facial expressions and see each other laugh and smile adds a social element that is otherwise lost in a virtual environment. Beyond easing integration into the team, there are productivity benefits to adding the video aspect to conference calls.
75% of office workers in the US fear that our professional relationships may deteriorate if people keep their eyes fixed on computer and smartphone screens instead of on each other. Facetime elevates communication from a conversation to an interaction; effectively reducing distraction and resulting in more productive meetings with stronger team bonds.
Since the onset of social distancing, we’ve made additional efforts to interact and see one another each week. Every Friday, our CEO hosts a call for the entire company to join, catch up, air concerns, check-in and communicate about what’s happening in their areas and how they’re managing the situation.
Develop New Ways to Interact:
Developing activities for employees to take part in beyond work may seem counterintuitive; however, feeling isolated or disengaged at work is directly correlated to reduced productivity and quality of work.
When employees feel connected to their team, company buy-in increases, quality increases, and productivity follows. At Adept, we’ve always done team building activities to encourage team interaction, but as the feeling of physical isolation mounts, we are adding more events to the calendar to counter it. Some activity ideas for your team are:
- Monthly trivia– have one associate put it together and host a meeting, cameras on, to share in the laughs and fun of a game together
- Lunch Bunch– our lead recruiter hosts a video conference call with any associates who choose to join where we eat lunch and play games to get to know each other better, like would you rather, or two truths and a lie
- Paper Plane Contest– This is one example of the fun competitions you can challenge your associates to. In this one, employees were given rules about making a paper plane. The one that flew the farthest was the winner.
- Love Your Pet Campaign– During this activity, associates were asked to send in pictures of their pets. All of our associates got to see the pictures and comment and ask questions. The whole activity only took a few minutes.
Those are just a few we’ve done, but if you’re looking for more virtual team building activities, here’s a link to an article that includes icebreakers, conversation starters and activities to try.
What’s to come?
The next few weeks will demand creativity and innovation from companies across the globe as they pivot to tackle the new challenges presented by this pandemic. Strong leadership, clear vision and a willingness to explore new solutions will be more important than ever. Companies with leaders who prioritize connection as highly as productivity will be well-positioned to weather the storm.