“I’ve been working remotely for years, but it never occurred to me to do a remote lunch”, “We’ve always done Skype meetings, but being the only one who’s remote I’ve always felt a little excluded.”
Dear fellow HR manager. At Hintsa we are based all over the world, and working remotely is part of the culture. We have the appropriate tools in place and a culture of trust. This means we didn’t start the crisis by looking for and testing appropriate video conferencing tools or creating policies for remote work. We hadn’t, however, fully mastered the art of remote connectivity. Only now, after a few weeks of truly everyone being remote, have we realised that.
The power of human connection
This pandemic has affected industries and organisations differently: some are struggling with an explosion in demand, others are forced to start the process for temporary lay-offs. Most knowledge workers are now in full remote working mode, and many of my HR colleagues have been busy writing or updating guidelines for remote work.
What everyone in HR soon comes to realise is how much of our emotional connection to colleagues comes from physical proximity. In a remote working world, that’s lost. Times of crisis, like now, puts even more emphasis on human connection, and HR and managers around the world are now wondering how to keep this up in a time of social (and physical) distancing.
Bringing the office social life to remote mode
Before this crisis we worked well remotely. What we realise now is that we were missing a key ingredient of virtual work: the human element. Maybe you know the situation? Meetings are on Skype, but five people are in the same room, only one is remote. In most cases, cameras were turned off. Over the course of a meeting, you forget to include people on the line. Also, we had remote meetings, but no remote social gatherings. These last weeks have really shed a light on the social part of remote work.
Thanks to our creative staff, we have tried new ideas for bringing the office social life to remote mode, too. Below are 6 innovative remote working practices all HR Managers should consider. You can also find some useful tips from our latest webinar – click here to access the recording.
1. Remote coffee and Q&A session with our CEO
This idea stemmed from taking “remote coffee breaks” together. During this break (with videos on!) our CEO gave an update on where we are with our “covid action plan”. A comment during the session: “Nice to see the gallery view, there are some faces I have never even seen before!”
2. Remote lunch
Videos on, everyone introduced their lunch choice of the day. We shared observations on remote work and new daily routines so eagerly that we were talking over each other – something normally dreaded in remote meetings. But guess what, it was not that serious, and everyone got to express their ideas (eventually).
3. Remote workout session
One of our Senior Performance Coaches led a bodyweight training session for us in true home office style: in rubber boots, on his home terrace. Spouses and kids at home were participating, too!
4. Virtual farewell party
Everyone grabbed their glasses and connected online to say their goodbyes to a dear colleague. One of the participants had just finished a midday workout, one had their kids drawing on the wall of the office (luckily that specific wall is meant for that purpose!), others were raising their glasses from their respective home offices, kitchens, or warehouses.
5. Online afterwork drinks
At 4pm on a Friday afternoon we finished work and logged on. Two of our multitalented colleagues played music while the rest of us sang along from the comfort of our homes (video conferencing tool muted – a very convenient functionality in this case)
6. Leadership team meeting with breakout rooms & online drawing boards
Originally planned as a face to face meeting for the leadership team, we made our all-day meeting fully remote. Utilising breakout rooms and online drawing boards for group work and with a proper 1-hour break in the middle of the day, we managed to get the work done – with high quality, and much less travel. The only downside was the slight jealousy caused by a team member in Australia finishing off his glass of wine post-dinner, while the rest of us in Europe were only having our first cups of coffee.
The future of work is here
The silver lining in a situation like this is that it allows more leeway to boldly try something new. Very few have truly figured out the full experience of virtual work yet, so why not be innovative? This unusual time requires creativity, problem solving skills and resilience like we’ve never seen before. Does this list sound familiar to you? Yes, the future of work is here. But it didn’t arrive slowly over the course of many years. It arrived with a bang, and us HR managers everywhere are now forced to adapt.
The upside is, that we are all in this together. One colleague said it well: “it’s a challenging time, but somehow it feels like we’ve come even closer together”. I suspect many of these new practices are here to stay.
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