With COVID-19 disrupting business, most employees in the insurance and insurtech industries have been forced to work from home. We are on week 12 of having most of our employees working remotely.
Working from home has its challenges on the best of days. Now throw in your partner working beside you and perhaps add some children into the mix. Or maybe you’re living alone and talking to your house plants.
Longtime physical distance can lead to emotional isolation and stress, especially during a pandemic, with all the health worries about children, parents and grandparents. It behooves employers to make a human connection to their people when they most need it.
We emphasize team-building and connection as a key component of our corporate culture. Implementing tools and activities that keep employees connected, interested and feeling heard is critical to long-term success, now more than ever. Teams large and small worldwide have had to dramatically shift operations and quickly adapt to how they work.
Remote work culture is here to stay, with many technology organizations expressing long-term interest in work-from-home options for their staff. Some of the team-building activities recommended in our first blog may not be feasible with social distancing. But there are several ways companies can leverage digital tools to check in on employees and promote active participation and keep them engaged and still feeling part of the team.
Fortunately, we’ve always had staff working remotely using web-based tools. We had tested all of our teams remotely before the outbreak. So we were ready, and the process was almost seamless.
Here are a few activities and tools that you too can use to maintain a sense of team connection while we work apart.
Check in with your employees
With everyone at home, you aren’t organically interacting with your team throughout the day. Infrequent email correspondence removes a layer of connection and can also increase miscommunication.
Instead, make sure employees are kept up to date with consistent communication that works for your business, such as daily video touchpoints and weekly emails. This is a turbulent time for many, affecting everyone in different ways. Make a point to check in with individual team members to see how they are doing and ensure they are properly supported.
Make virtual meetings fun
Virtual teams don’t get to enjoy coffee-break talk, foosball or quick chatter between meetings. Maintaining fun social interactions between team members is crucial.
Use video calls, meetings and touchpoints with teams to have a little fun and foster connection among your team.
As well as continuing video meetings with our clients, we hold internal companywide video calls on Tuesdays and Fridays to touch base with everyone and provide internal updates. On Fridays, we set aside about 15 to 20 minutes to have a little fun. Some of the activities we’ve built into our meetings that any team could easily incorporate include:
- Costume contests, dress-up formal Fridays, holiday themes, ‘80s, etc.
- Games such as trivia, truth or lie, sharing bucket lists, etc.
- Group stretching
- Contests to see who can come up with the best Zoom background
- Fundraising for the local hospital and food bank
Encourage your team to take breaks
Not having a designated office to separate work from one’s personal life and responsibilities is a significant adjustment. Encourage your team to take breaks and give them the flexibility they need to manage their schedule and make their days productive. Clearly communicate expectations to demonstrate trust in your team’s ability to be accountable for their work and deadlines without having to prove they’re online all the time.
Take bonding activities online
Creative team-building games and events are key elements of fostering a startup culture. Fun activities help employees feel challenged and valued. While we may not be playing golf or having an office party for a while, let your team bond over a virtual activity on Zoom or Skype.
There are a slew of options popping up, from virtual escape rooms to livestream classes. So far, we’ve held a few optional virtual events to bring our team closer together, including a fundraiser, an Easter contest, a recipe exchange (recipe book coming soon) and a jam session put on by our resident musicians.
These activities can be short and simple–just something genuine that makes your team feel valued and gives them a little break.
We may be physically isolated, but, thanks to technology, we need not be alone.