Here are some tips to foster comradery and teamwork when working from home
Working from home has its challenges and benefits. For many charity employees, the new arrangements have meant a shortened commute, more time for other activities, perhaps even saving some money. For others, working from home has meant the absence of sociability, difficulty distinguishing between work and leisure, and other negative elements.
Whether you enjoy working from home or not, it’s important that teams support each other however they can. At Charity Digital, we recommend using digital to stay connected and support team members. Below we offer some quick and simple advice to help your team.
There has been reports of managers micromanaging employees while working from home. In fact, software is available to measure employee productivity by different variables, such as email rate, the duration of online activity, even how fast people are typing.
Taking a step back, employee surveillance doesn’t necessarily mean that productivity has increased or that projects are completed. In fact, studies have shown that employees respond better to an atmosphere of trust, where managers award them a greater degree of freedom.
To support your team, we recommend doing away with digital surveillance. Instead, focus on taking stock of achievements and keeping up with morale. Team members can do this by frequent praise and setting up reward programmes.
Zoom fatigue and burn out are common symptoms of permanently being online. For many charity workers, working from home has meant an increased workload with little separation between home life and work life.
To reduce Zoom fatigue and support your colleagues, respecting time offline is important. Team members should notice when other members have booked time offline. They can also schedule time for themselves when there are no meetings.
Respecting other people’s time means not ringing colleagues during black-out periods. It means stepping back whenever colleagues have dedicated personal times. It also means avoiding late emails or messages outside working hours. It also means ensuring that team member’s days off are precisely that.
While water cooler conversations are no longer possible for many office workers, team comradery doesn’t have to disappear. Digital communication tools can bridge that gap to make team members feel close.
Digital tools can help charity workers support each other by establishing structured ‘check-ins’. The Harvard Business Review says that the most important aspect of the check-in is to create a “forum in which employees know that they can consult with you, and that their concerns and questions will be heard”.
For charity workers, these daily meet ups could include Zoom conferencing, Microsoft Teams channel chats, one-to-one telephone calls, or simply just a chat message. Remember, emails aren’t enough for keeping up with regular channels of communication.
Late in 2021, Andy Haldane, the Bank of England’s Chief Economist, declared that working from home may come at the cost of creativity. In his speech, he noted that the main culprit contributing to the decline of creativity was the frenetic schedule of online meetings.
To best support your team, make time for creativity and innovation. Schedule regular online meetings with no agenda. Build in time ahead of meetings to brainstorm and encourage casual encounters. To encourage digital creativity, create dedicated non-work channels where employees can share news articles, memes, jokes, and inspiration.
For many charity workers, work burn-out and stress are very real. In a recent survey by the Third Sector, nine out of ten charity workers faced stress, overwhelm, or burn out in the past year.
Despite the majority of respondents saying that they felt comfortable discussing the issues with their line manager, a large proportion, almost one-third, said that they were not.
Mental health at home is as important as in the office. One of the best ways that charity workers can support mental health is to encourage access to resources. At Charity Digital, we’ve explored some of the most well-known courses and advice for mental health.
For all charity workers, Mind recommends a Wellness Action Plan for both managers and employees. Available digitally, the plans help chart wellness over time and are meant to be discussed during one-to-one meetings.
During times of uncertainty, organisations may ask more from their employees. For charities, supporting charity workers and making them feel valued is important.
Even for those on a shoestring budget, employee benefits programmes can still be effective. Make sure charity workers are informed of benefit schemes. This could include discounted software, retail discounts, or office perks.
For those on a shoestring budget, hosting virtual cocktail events, online games days, duvet days, or online activities may be just the right thing to support employees.