How to make WFH work for your employees

We have been banging on about the benefits of engaging employees with their jobs and company ethos as a whole, but we have a sneaking suspicion that many of you secretly harboured the impression that employee engagement is for neo-hippy Silicon Valley tech giants: not for you.

Covid-19 has proven this not to be the case. Employee engagement has come to the forefront of business strategy. With companies forced to close their doors during lockdown, employees have, where feasible, rapidly transitioned to homeworking. As in any working environment, it works well for some employees and not others. Homeworking is a difficult transition for part of the workforce, especially the more gregarious characters who miss the ‘watercooler conversations’ and the social aspects that office life supports.

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Happy homeworker reading employee engagement text

While there are clearly many pros and cons to working from home, there are definitely those who appreciate the flexibility this can bring, in particular parents who have simultaneously been catapulted into the world of homeschooling. Unfortunately, this is often still regarded as predominantly ‘women’s work’ and it is no surprise that women are leaving the workforce in their droves as they succumb to stress and fatigue caused by trying to reconcile home life and work life. In the US, for example, ‘[a]ccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 2 million fewer women in the labor force in November 2020 than a year earlier.’ This is not ideal for the families who are left with one wage less, nor a society trying to attain gender equality in the workplace. 

It’s not just women who are finding that homeworking brings its own stresses. In spite of popular expectation to the contrary, it has been shown that the working day has been extended almost an hour as employees struggle to achieve a work/ life balance. Perhaps fearful of being considered ‘slacking’ when out from under the watchful eye of their managers, homeworkers are finding it difficult to switch their computers off or ignore work phone calls and emails that may arrive long into the night.

So, how do you ensure your employees are still engaged with their job while keeping your company culture alive?

It is surprisingly easy – and yet surprisingly difficult for many employers to get right. 

The 9-5 is dead, long live the ‘flexiday’!

It can be hard to leave old habits behind, and the (surprisingly relatively modern) habit of putting in an eight hour day is looking more and more like an anachronism, as post-pandemic employees working at home come to realise work can be just as fulfilling, and productive, when carried out to their own timetable. This is especially true for parents finding their feet in the #NewNow. Employees who are flexible in their attitude to working hours (of course, this doesn’t have to mean fewer hours) are more likely to see their staff engaging with greater enthusiasm than those kept to the same rigid timescale as at the office. Night-owls may appreciate the opportunity to burn some midnight oil, while larks may want to clear their desks before everyone else has surfaced – working to their own timetable means they are more likely to produce their best work when their energy and creativity is at its peak. Innovation within a company is what drives it forward. Communicating with employees through an app such as Schoop allows employers to send push notifications checking in without being overly intrusive. One-way messages of encouragement or reminders to take breaks, for example, can be a welcome reminder that employers have their staff’s best interests at heart.

Some structure creates security

We don’t want to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ when transitioning to WFH, however. Meetings will never disappear, so it is useful to ensure that, out of courtesy, online chats are diarised to suit different time zones in turn, so diary dates are not just convenient for HQ. Global companies will always need a simple, direct method of communication, as we have found with one of our large corporate clients. Thrown into the entirely unexpected position of having to ask the vast majority of their staff to work from home, they called on Schoop to help expand their employee engagement programme outside the UK. They found that being able to connect their employees with one engagement app meant that everyone is on the same page, with our interactive calendar and scheduled reminders helping to keep everyone on track. The fact that the app can also be automatically delivered in over 40 languages cemented this international company’s decision to implement Schoop outside their UK base.

A full-featured engagement tool has become essential

While technology has become an accepted and vital part of office culture, the corporate world has been slow to embrace engagement tools for maintaining team spirit. In a workforce that may well be scattered across the globe, a sense of common purpose is vital in sustaining a cohesive company environment. While Schoop is great for delivering (free, unlimited) push notifications to deliver right-up-to-the-minute news and info, there is so much more to this handy employee engagement solution. Vital feedback can be gathered through the Forms and Surveys feature, from simple pulse polls that offer an instant snapshot of staff morale, to full-featured surveys that deliver an in-depth picture of company motivation and commitment. The News and Engagement option can be used to offer a lighter, more informal view of company events, successes or just shining a light on areas of the company that may be frequently overlooked.

Schoop’s versatility is its virtue, with each company putting our full-featured app to use according to their own needs. It packs a lot into an easy-to-use, simple to implement solution. What are you waiting for? Keep your employees in the loop with Schoop! 

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