If you’re like most companies, COVID-19 has changed the way you do business. You may not only be faced with reprioritizing your business objectives and your budget, but also figuring out where your team should work on a weekly basis and how to keep employees engaged. Many companies, including our team at CallTrackingMetrics, have instituted a mandatory work from home policy based on CDC recommendations. And while we know this policy is what’s best for our employee’s health and safety, we also realize it can be isolating for employees to suddenly be working solo from their home offices.
When we decided to adopt a fully remote workforce, we needed to find a way to quickly move everyone from our corporate office space to their home office space. Luckily, since we all use the CallTrackingMetrics software and had other communication tools already in place, the transition was fairly seamless. But having the right technology to use was just one piece of the equation. The other big factor was ensuring our team stayed connected, and more importantly, engaged. Showcased during our COVID-19 town hall webinar last week, here’s a look at the top 6 strategies our COO Laure Fisher, and Director of HR, Shannon Duvall, have implemented and recommend to help keep employees engaged.
#1: Communicate often
When your once main corporate office suddenly becomes nearly 50 virtual offices, it’s imperative to find a way to maintain connection. CTM’s solution for this is not only having multiple channels to communicate, but communicating frequently. We use tools like Basecamp internally to centralize important COVID-19 updates, new deployment alerts, and daily check-ins. With Basecamp, we’ve also set up automated daily notifications to ask employees, “What did you work on today?” And although we know our employees are productive wherever they work, daily check-ins serve as a platform for employees to recognize all they’ve accomplished that day.
We also use chat programs like Flowdock or Google Hangouts for brief updates and to keep in touch throughout the day. These communications are typically more casual than email, and can also be used for discussions across the entire organization. CallTrackingMetrics uses Flowdock not only for our daily “good mornings,” or to share an “I miss Friday bagels,” note, but also to get quick company-wide feedback on client questions. Our support team also uses our internal chat feature to quickly communicate details 1:1 with another agent without having to leave the CallTrackingMetrics platform.
Read More: 4 CTM Tools to Make Remote Work Easier
#2: Have more meetings
You may wonder why anyone would ever suggest more meetings, but in this newly “remote world,” they serve another key purpose: to guarantee a time to communicate with your team. We try to conduct the majority of our meetings using video platforms like Zoom or Google Hangouts. Not only is it nice to see a familiar smile in the midst of social distancing, but if we’d normally walk down the hall for a face-to-face meeting, why shouldn’t we now?
But regardless of whether meetings are held over the phone or through video, regularly scheduled check-ins are important to maintain a highly connected and engaged staff. At CallTrackingMetrics, all of our teams have morning stand-ups or huddles, just like they would in the office—even if they only last ten or fifteen minutes. Managers are also conducting weekly 1:1s with each team member to see how they are doing. We’ve found these 1:1s provide a time for employees to be more candid about their concerns than in a group setting. During these conversations we try to reinforce the importance of each employee’s role, make sure they’re feeling comfortable with their workload, and also ensure they have everything they need to be successful.
#3: Give daily shout-outs
Throughout this pandemic, some employees may find they’re working even harder to keep up with urgent business demands. That’s why it’s especially important to say “thanks,” and ensure our employees and teammates know their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. At CTM, we give shout-outs on Flowdock to celebrate things like landing a new account, to congratulate a new sales member on completing their first demo, or to share client praises. We recommend using a public platform like Flowdock to encourage everyone to add their own kudos and celebratory emojis. Acknowledging just one person a day can help inspire and motivate an entire team.
#4: Don’t stop training
CallTrackingMetrics is a fast growing organization with new employees starting every month. We had two new employees who started just before COVID-19 hit. These employees had spent the last few weeks in the office intensely learning our software, and we didn’t want them to lose ground or motivation. Luckily, our Google Guru and Product Coach, Jessica Michaels, has been able to continue their training through our virtual CallTrackingMetrics Academy, which is offered to both new clients and new employees. She also offers daily practice exercises to new employees to reiterate what was taught each day, and provides company-wide virtual trainings each Thursday to keep us all up to speed on what’s trending with our clients or tips and reminders on topics like new features, Google Analytics, or how to best use our software’s functionality.
#5: Require more breaks
During this time, we could all use a little more empathy and flexibility. We need to remember our newly remote workforce may have more outside distractions than ever before, and the term “work-life balance” has taken on a new meaning. Employees are now not only answering to work, but also to dogs begging to go outside, 4th graders asking for help with their multiplication tables, and high schoolers having issues logging onto Google Classrooms. Remind your employees to not only take their standard lunch, but also other short breaks throughout the day. Let them know it’s okay to go take the dog on a short walk or to stop to help with homework. Just because we are ordered to stay-at-home, doesn’t mean we’re bound to our desks. Mental and physical breaks will help make your employees feel more relaxed, as well as more focused and productive. Our Marketing team even held a group meditation over Zoom for 20 minutes to serve as a quick mental refresh in the middle of the workday.
#6: Stay social, even virtually
We are social creatures by nature, so in addition to our daily grind, we need to find fun ways to connect with each other. At CTM, we continue to have all of our regularly scheduled all-hands meetings via Zoom. One of our new favorite ways to kick-off these meetings is by letting employees showcase and comment on their most creative Zoom backgrounds. And it’s actually become quite competitive—we’ve seen backgrounds ranging from SpongeBob’s house, to disco lounges, to Tiger King, to Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” just to name a few.
Many teams are also hosting virtual lunches, and just last week, we had a sunglasses-themed happy hour.
All CTM happy hours are now pet and family-friendly, and many of our dogs, cats, and significant others will show up for some camera time. We’ve also had a pajama day, a St. Patrick’s Day costume contest, and plan on moving some of our extra-curricular activities like our book club to a virtual platform.
Don’t forget to remind your employees that we’re all in this together.
Six feet of social distancing may be today’s new normal, but it doesn’t mean we need to feel isolated in our home offices. Now, more than ever, it’s important to find as many ways as possible to interact with and support employees. Ultimately, the way we engage with our employees today will help build an even more productive and loyal workforce as we move into a COVID-free future.