The world of work has changed dramatically due to the pandemic. Nobody could have predicted last year’s events. Social distancing, lockdowns, and self-isolation quickly became the new normal, and as a result, businesses and companies around the world encouraged their employees to work from home.
For many people, this new world of remote work has been challenging and making the transition from in-person work to fully remote, to hybrid working has been a learning curve for everyone.
As a result, remote teams who meet virtually may feel less engaged with their roles and may have less of a connection with the company, which could severely affect performance and productivity. Other significant changes such as re-structuring or furloughed staff may have had a dramatic impact in these two key areas.
Whether you’re returning to the office or adopting a hybrid working model, to keep up with this fast-changing future, many leaders are now recognising that they must reconnect teams. It’s likely that your organisation will have to make some changes to protocol, and there are probably some new social norms to consider and a change in team culture. Chances are, when employees return to work, the environment will not be the same as when they left it.
The detachment caused by remote working could make some people feel a little apprehensive about returning to the office again. Others, however, will be keen to reconnect and build up those relationships. Regardless of which category your team members fall into, an exciting and engaging team experience can really help to break the ice and make that first step as enjoyable as possible.
To help employees reconnect and learn from each other through open communication, it is important to schedule a workshop to align on expectations and ways of communicating. It may take time for the workplace to return to ‘normal’ again but for many organisations this is a fresh start and a chance to establish a new culture of collaboration and focus on productivity.
This workshop can be a full day or two days depending on a variety of factors, but we recommend that it should include the following:
This workshop will enable employees to reflect on their personal experiences, including how they were affected during the pandemic, how they’ve been coping with the new environment, as well as any productivity or collaborative issues they’re experiencing.
It is critical to create an environment that protects emotional safety and wellbeing to enable people to be honest. If you can do that, they’ll leave with a better understanding of each other and an appreciation for what everyone went through, and you’ll have a clear pathway to increased performance.
It is also important to discuss how the organisation responded to the pandemic and what improvements could be made to prepare in the event of future lockdowns.
Communicate the business position
In a period of uncertainty, it is even more important to give people updates on the business. Employees will expect reassurance and certainty of their roles during this financial crisis, which you may not be able to give. Be mindful to draw attention to the positives to help to remind the team of their strengths and foster motivation. If you stay silent, they will fill in the gaps with their own ideas of what is going on rather than the actual facts.
Rebuild team culture
Teams may well find they no longer feel like “one team”. People can start to feel disconnected and lose that original sense of team cohesion they once had.
To heal any divisions that the distance has created, it is important to organise a team social event, face-to-face or virtually, to allow people to reconnect, boost wellbeing and rebuild the social glue.
Leaders should also consider putting together a team social event calendar for the year. Bringing in regular, fun, wellbeing-themed away days can help keep communication alive, relationships fresh and engagement high.
Over time, the boost to company morale and the improved company culture will have everyone on board and working towards the goals of the company, making it not only more productive but an employer of choice.
Re-aligning goals, behaviours & expectations
Establishing new goals is essential for returning to the workplace. If you’re adopting a hybrid model then remote employees have the freedom to work when and where they want, so having a set goal and a structured timeline means that they have direction. Plus, remote employees may be losing sight of the bigger picture, so common objectives can unite and engage people collectively.
Make sure you set expectations and your team members are clear about how you will work together remotely and how you keep each other updated to avoid isolation. Be clear about mutual expectations and focus on results rather than activity, to avoid micromanaging.
Team meetings should also take on more prominence, and a full calendar of team meetings should be established, where people can realign on a daily or weekly basis.
Welcoming in new members of the team
Consistency will not only help existing team members, but it will also support the integration of new people. It’s difficult joining a new company at the best of times, but the pandemic has certainly caused many companies to re-evaluate their onboarding processes.
GRA specialises in creating tailored solutions for our customers, supporting organisations to achieve their team development objectives, create sustainable change in team culture and enhance organisational performance by improving team leadership.
We would love to arrange a call or meeting with you to understand the development needs for your teams so that we can propose a solution that will achieve maximum impact. Please fill in the form below.