Running clubs, You days, level jumping meetings

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The pandemic saw a shift to remote working almost overnight. Now, many employers plan to continue the practice, at least in part. But what are the challenges of managing and motivating a dispersed team and what are companies doing to get it right?

Information is power, the saying goes. In fact, many employers have designed their buildings to facilitate its flow. Open-plan seating, relaxation areas, collaborative spaces and caf̩ docks Рthe offices were all about bringing staff together, sharing knowledge and building relationships. In the remote working world, virtual tools get the job done.

Connect

Enabling employees and business leaders to connect, share stories and celebrate success, wherever they are, is vital in the new world of work, says Eamon Rheinisch, CEO of Global MHR. His company’s People First platform gives employers the tools to do just that.

“The most important thing is that people feel connected and don’t feel isolated when they are away from the office,” says Rheinisch.

“There may be mental health issues, or people may be doing their jobs but not fully engaged in the full experience that working life brings. We bridge this gap by using technology to facilitate connection and collaboration. “

Companies use the MHR platform so that remote employees can continue to access the most recent policies and procedures; they can chat with team members and they can chat with their manager in a structured way to discuss well-being, career development and performance.

The traditional annual performance review was dead anyway, says Rheinisch. Real-time conversations with managers and greater transparency about opportunities are a much more effective way to motivate and retain staff.

“With People First, employees have access to their entire talent profile. They can explore different roles in the organization and see if they match, ”says Rheinisch.

“An employee sitting at home can press a button to say ‘I’m ready for a new challenge.’ Their manager is informed and we can send them a survey or direct them to any e-learning they might need.

Sharing

The platform also has a “Communities” feature, allowing people to cultivate these very important informal connections. “The employees have formed running clubs, they can discuss the best sets on Netflix – colleagues can continue to enjoy these conversations on the water cooler,” says Rheinisch.

“It’s about sharing information with employees and really making them feel like they’re still part of a work family, even if they’re not in an office.”

When it comes to motivating teams remotely, it is not a question of inventing something but of adapting everything to the virtual, explains Roseanne Regan, communication manager of Liberty Insurance. The company has told its employees that they can work remotely even after the Covid-19 crisis is over.

It is important to have a solid strategy to keep employees engaged in the virtual model. “Internal communication is key, and it’s not just about sending CEO emails,” says Regan.

“We have a consulting program for senior executives on how to motivate their teams and stay connected. With my team, we have a call every day and sometimes it’s just to say, “Is everything okay? “

Liberty insurance offices in Cavan. The company plans to adopt a remote working model after the pandemic. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Level jump meetings, where employees connect directly with senior managers, also take place. “We have virtual cafes where five random people from across the organization can meet with members of the executive. Staff think they can lift things they might not put in an email.

The company has also organized virtual sites and launched a virtual training catalog where employees can take online courses.

“We have a business strategy, which is our vision and our goals, and everyone actually gets online strategy training to keep us all motivated while being separate. “

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There was also a very practical help. A grant of 460 € was given to all employees to create a better workspace at home. Employees will also receive an allowance of € 55 per month to cover expenses incurred by working at home.

The company called its work model “Liberty Digital Way”. “People are proud to work this way,” says Regan. In fact, monthly employee sentiment surveys show that employees are now much more likely to recommend the company as a great place to work. “This score is at an all time high,” says Regan. “In fact, we have found that our services have improved. Our customer service centers are more productive and our employees are happier too.

Last year the online recruiter Indeed.fr announced flexible long-term work options for its 10,000 employees worldwide, including more than 1,000 Irish employees. Options include fully remote working, a hybrid of home and office work, as well as a full-time option in the office.

“We were one of the first large companies to switch to remote work overnight, and we were pleasantly surprised to see how well our people have adapted,” said Derek Diviney, vice president of Indeed. The company, however, had to reconsider how it approached things like onboarding new employees.

Discuss

“We are currently recruiting for a lot of open positions and have had to adapt the way we do things so that new employees always feel connected, even remotely. This has meant a lot of communication and additional registrations, as well as informal catch-up opportunities to replace that water cooler cat that people miss.

One of the big changes the company has made is the introduction of “You Days” – a company-wide monthly day off.

“Even though we offer unlimited time off, we found that at the start of the pandemic, people naturally took less time off because they had nowhere to go. These days were very popular and offer a well-deserved break where everyone can collectively disconnect, ”explains Diviney.

“While working remotely isn’t ideal for everyone, we’ve learned that our employees can be just as productive working from home and that flexible work options can give us a better quality of life. “

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