How to reconfigure HR activities for remote working

23 Nov 2020 5 min read

Written by

The HR Team

With so many teams switching to remote work in the past months, keeping up (employee) engagement and morale has become an even harder challenge for HR. While working from home means no frustrating commute, no office distractions, and no more spontaneous colleague interruptions, it still poses plenty of challenges, especially when you're not used to it. A Buffer study shows that "communication, collaboration, and loneliness continue to be top challenges for remote workers and remote organizations".

As such, HR teams have to adapt in order to continue supporting (both management and operational) and take care of employees' well being.  Here are a few tips and tricks, as well as ideas, from our HR team on how they continued to be creative with their activities and find unique ways to keep all of us engaged.

Organize Virtual Team activities & Team-buildings

When we say team-building or team activities, what comes first into our minds is a physical team event, happening usually at the office or outdoor. But organizing online events is also possible, and can be equally engaging. We would even recommend them. If a team was used to having these types of interactions while working from the office, not having them can be demotivating, and can even amplify the feelings of loneliness and anxiety. 

Thus, we advise you to continue organizing them or start doing them if it is not yet the case! One month, one activity!

If you are looking for some inspiration of what you could implement, check out below a couple of suggestions of what we did:

  • Created a collaborative movie selection and a music compilation (we made an XWiki application for it) in order to make the weekends/days of your team members more pleasant, and why not, discover other genres outside your comfort zone;
  • Organized a Virtual Egg Hunt for Easter, encouraging the team members to 1. hide eggs (of all types) inside/outside their home, 2. send a photo, 3. upload it and 4. let the other guess where the eggs are hidden;
  • Choose a theme and split into teams to create a unique Piece of Art, using the Spreadsheet Pixel Art method. We had the team vote for the most original piece;
  • Celebrated International Children's Day and invited colleagues to return to their childhood through sharing a photo of them aged below 5 and having to guess who is who. It was a hit!
  • Did an activity to celebrate national days. Share images of different locations from the countries in which your team members are located and let the others guess the locations;
  • Had a game session of Two truths and a lie. It's super fun: each team member adds 3 statements about themselves (one false and two true), without mentioning which is which. Split into teams (either by project, department, or randomly) the lie had to be identified and the team with most guesses wins;
  • Organized a Virtual Halloween. The team members can wear Halloween accessories, have thematic drinks, and play games. We had. a lot of fun writing a "Book of Spells", by asking each team to create a spell based on specific words and representative images for it;
  • Challenged the team with a Virtual Scavenger Hunt activity, asking them to send photos based on preferred items and create quizzes based on them in order to identify the person that took the photo;
  • Celebrate Christmas through a virtual event, with Secret Santa, games, Virtual Santa/Mary Claus for the children of your teammates.

These activities can be done in a day during a video call or during several days asynchronously. We have chosen the latter as it fits our team best. Also, there are several tools that you can use for organizing the activities. On our side, we chose to keep it in-house - the App within minutes as the main support tool, Up1 for uploading and Cryptpad sheets and documents.

Hold Remote Seminars

When a physical seminar is not safe to be organized, then have a remote one! You might miss the direct physical interaction, but there are plenty of advantages of having this type of event even online! Using the proper tools and choosing the right activities can make the seminar a success.

We have dedicated an entire blog article to it, feel free to read it here!

Set up Virtual Social Events

Besides team-buildings, you can also launch weekly morning Virtual Coffee Breaks, once at two weeks evening Aperos and monthly Fun drawing guessing games (Skribbl / Sketchful), where the team can gather and interact with each other.

Birthdays and Work Anniversary days that are usually celebrated at the office around cakes and drinks can take the shape of a more individual approach, surprising the team member directly with a gift sent at home and sending your warm wishes on the chats or during calls. 

Offer the proper perks

Remote work needs a certain set-up to be made in order to keep a good level of productivity, so employees should be encouraged to have a dedicated room for working and ergonomics equipment. Also being at home means consuming more electricity, heat, etc than when you are in the office. Therefore, one perk that you can think of implementing is a Home Office Budget to cover partially or totally these expenses.

If at the office your employees had everything that they needed in terms of goodies, fruits, and refreshments, then you can also think about sending them at home some gourmet gifts or organizing fruit delivery. You can go even further and personalize these gifts taking into consideration the personality and the preference of your team members. They will certainly appreciate it!

Another aspect at which you could look is the training & development area. Taking advantage of free remote training or investing in paid online training might be a good idea during this period. On our side, we had focused on language courses from Gymglish and a soft skill training on the topic Crucial Conversation organized by Ascendis.

In addition to this, don't forget about the flexibility, trust, and support to the team members during these unusual times.

Communicate as often as possible

Communication should come hand-in-hand with remote working. In written or spoken, together with active listening, communication is the key

  • Use e-mails and/or collaborative platforms for placing announcements;
  • Keep a monthly internal newsletter mentioning monthly news, team statuses, achievements, difficulties;
  • Hold more frequent virtual meetings - formal and informal discussions;
  • Organize one to one meetings between the HR and each team member at the frequency that would work for your company;
  • Encourage one-to-one meetings within the teams;
  • Send surveys to identify challenges/needs & keep online sessions to discuss them;
  • Offer transparency and communicate on how the company is going or answer questions that the team might have;
  • Keep your instant messaging doors open.

Keep the team engaged and happy!

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