Virtual Culture - #Coronavirus and Telecommuting

 

Paranoia, uncertainty, and maybe a bit of loneliness are all turns of phrase to characterize the current state of work. With the fear of disease front of mind, companies have been forced to separate their workforce. For one who espouses Employee Engagement and Cultural Development for a living, you would think this a dark time. As ever, we adapt and move forward. The Coronavirus-forced work-from-home mandate could serve as an interesting experiment to test mobile work. We are not encouraged to shake hands and company events are being put on-hold so there's never been a better time for virtual collaboration.

Social Recognition
Say 1,200 people have shut their desk drawers and will be working from home for a month. The experience of recapping a ballgame or the Bachelor with co-workers certainly has to be replaced. You'll find the inability to walk to someone's desk to ask for an update on the project timeline to be equally disenchanting. As we slog through the imperfect separation, we need a way to stay connected.

After a long day of emails, texts and conference calls why not jump over to your company's internal social space to thank a colleague or two? There is nothing like a Thank You to provide the end of day dopamine release and it serves as a healthy alternative to happy hour.

Beneficial Capabilities:

  • Badging (Project/Training completion)
  • Milestone Celebration (Birthdays, Service Anniversary)
  • Manager discretionary rewards
  • Peer to Peer interaction

... all-encompassed in the ability to comment, like and share as if applauding announcements of progress at a team meeting. 

Wellness
You've been on conference calls since 6am, take a break to walk your dog. Try taking that e-learning course from your Peloton. Mixing a smoothie in your kitchen sure does taste better than cafeteria food.

If we can begin to observe healthy interludes from home, maybe we can carry them back to the workplace when the doors re-open.

Beneficial Capabilities: 

  • Renewed focus on clean work environments
  • Reminders to wash hands
  • Steps challenges
  • Mental health breaks
  • Calorie monitoring
  • Sleep monitoring

Collaboration Tools
Your conference rooms may be replaced by chat rooms temporarily but that should not stall progress. A good collaboration system will allow employees to share ideas, construct rule changes and like/share the input of others.

Suddenly the isolation has given way to a whole new connectivity afforded through the use of programs that have always been there for us but might not have been fully adopted.

Beneficial Capabilities:

  • Idea sharing (approved and adopted)
  • Article editing (sharing beneficial best practices)
  • Process improvement (documentation of issue resolution)
  • Social feed for morale-boosting

We'll miss the hugs and water cooler chats but we cannot allow dormant workplaces to depress our sense of community.

Replace your cultural affirmation by engaging with others systematically. It might not be perfect but for now, it's all we've got.

Originally posted on Dave's Weekly Thought blog.

 

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.
COMMENTS 1

Comments

Great thinking David! I'll be the first one to say Thank You!

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below:
Image CAPTCHA