Working from home can feel isolating, so it’s more important now than ever before to build a positive company culture that your teams can enjoy remotely.
Social distancing means that most of us have been working from home for several weeks now, a situation that has completely changed the face of company culture everywhere, for better and for worse.
In addition to the pressures and anxieties that come with an unprecedented global pandemic, not everyone has previous experience of working remotely. In fact, less than 30% of the UK’s workforce had worked from home prior to the COVID-19 crisis.
Even with experience and a dedicated home-working environment, remote working can leave employees feeling socially isolated, disconnected, unmotivated, and distracted.
But you can change that.
Providing your colleagues with a nurturing, fun, and positive work-from-home culture is the key to employee well-being and productivity.
Improving company culture is at the heart of what we do at City Pantry, so let us help you create a positive work-from-home environment with the following seven tips.
1. Stay in touch
Communication is the most important tool for any remote team - it helps us stay connected, informed, and entertained.
There are loads of ways to keep in touch while working from home, including live messenger technologies like Slack, video conferencing tools like Zoom, and workflow management systems like monday.com.
Make sure that you keep your teams in the loop with regular updates, whether that’s by instant message on Slack or via a weekly all-hands video meeting. Maintaining high levels of transparency, trust, and openness is also integral to creating a positive company culture, especially during a time of national uncertainty.
But don’t limit communication to just the serious stuff. One of the most important aspects of company culture is how we communicate outside of work tasks. So, create virtual spaces to encourage ‘water cooler’ chat - perhaps a dedicated Slack channel for sharing memes, or virtual drop-in coffee shop via video call.
2. Encourage regular breaks & holidays
Working outside of an office environment can be great - there’s no commute, for a start. But with increased flexibility, we run the risk of working too hard and not being able to switch off a the end of the day. This is particularly the case for those who don’t have a dedicated workspace in their homes.
Create a nurturing company culture by letting your teams know that it’s okay to take regular breaks throughout the day - and not just at lunchtime. The official HSE recommendation is to take a 5-10 minute break every hour, but you should publish your own advice on the company comms platform too.
When we can’t leave our homes to travel the world (or even go out for a coffee), taking annual leave may sound silly. But it’s not. Taking time away from the screen and professional commitments can do your employees a world of good. Whether it’s reading a book, catching up with family via video calls, or looking after children during half term, taking holiday is crucial for their mental health and well-being.
Encourage your employees to take the time off that they need, or go a step further and implement an unlimited holiday policy to create a company culture based on trust and mutual respect.
3. Treat your teams with food
At City Pantry, our mission is to reinvent company culture with the power of food, and that doesn’t stop just because many of us are now working from home.
We still believe that food is one of the best work perks that you can provide for your teams, so what better way to cheer them up in lockdown than sending free food directly to their door? We’ve launched a couple of different services to do just that.
Pantry Packages is our new at-home food box delivery service, which includes boxes of fresh veg, meal-prep kits, juices, ready-made sweet treats, and more from the very best restaurants and caterers in town. Set your budget and let your colleagues choose their favourite box - and we’ll deliver it straight to their homes contact-free.
Bring your teams together by sharing photos and recipes, or host a live after-hours cooking show to get the creative juices flowing.
We’ve also launched teams@home gift cards that your colleagues can redeem through Just Eat. Why not set up a weekly team lunch and share a takeaway together virtually?
Food is synonymous with culture, so don’t leave it out of yours.
4. Organise virtual socials
One of the most exciting parts of company culture is work socials, and it’s important to keep them going while everyone is out of the office.
There is a whole array of social events you can host while we’re not allowed to leave our homes. Virtual pub quizzes, remote yoga classes, and after-work drinks on Zoom are all legal lockdown activities.
However, forced fun isn’t fun at all. So, be sure to invite everyone from your team to join in, but don’t make it compulsory.
5. Support employees with children
In a recent article, the Guardian shone a light on the negative aspects of working from home, one of which was the tricky situation of balancing childcare and professional commitments.
With schools shut until further notice, it’s really difficult for parents to juggle work and family time, let alone attempt to homeschool their young ones.
Creating a positive work-from-home culture includes offering more flexibility to employees with children. Help them to feel supported by allowing flexible working hours, encouraging paid time off, and letting them know it’s okay if their children interrupt a work call.
You could even start up a dedicated Slack channel for parents where they can share homeschooling tips and tricks. Not everyone is a wizz when it comes to the GCSE maths curriculum!
6. Provide one-to-one appointments with HR
Set some time aside each week to provide your colleagues with virtual drop-in appointments with the HR team.
Working from home can impact your employees’ mental (and physical) health, so it’s important to create a safe space for them to bring up any issues.
Whether they’re feeling lonely or are in need of extra resources to make working from home more comfortable, providing some one-on-one time with the HR department can really help build positive company culture.
7. Develop a good remote interviewing & onboarding process
With some industries booming despite the crisis, many companies are still recruiting new starters. If that’s you, make sure to create a remote interviewing and onboarding plan to ensure things go smoothly.
Once you’ve found the right candidate, here are a few things you can do to make sure the onboarding process reflects your amazing company culture:
- Send them a company laptop and other equipment in plenty of time.
- Set a start date and time, and send them clear instructions on how to log into all their company accounts.
- Start the first day with a ‘welcome’ video call between the new starter and their manager.
- Schedule in video calls with each team to give them a good overview of the company, its values, and its culture.
- Set up virtual training sessions to explain role-specific tools and processes.
- Arrange virtual welcome drinks to help them meet their new colleagues.
It can be daunting starting a new job, let alone remotely, so be sure to make a good first impression and let your company culture shine through.
We hope you enjoyed reading our top tips for creating a positive work-from-home culture. If you’d like to provide food perks for your remote teams, check out our dedicated page here.
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