The required switch to remote work or added restrictions for essential employees due to COVID-19 have placed an unusual strain on so many companies. You should be proud of your organization’s quick response and adaptability, but now you face a new challenge – how to keep employees engaged and corporate culture on-track. Here are ten ideas to help you maintain those important connections:

  1. Get your team MOVING. Whether still on-site but physically-distanced or at home working remotely, encourage regular employee breaks.
    • Schedule simultaneous quick strolls around the block and ask employees to share pictures of something they saw along the way.
    • Send out a text to your team reminding them to take 60 seconds for “deep breathing” exercises.
    • Start a fitness challenge. At MJ, we are doing a “Crank those Planks” challenge with teams trying to log the most minutes planking over the next few weeks.
  2. Include visual check-ins. Make sure at least a few of your scheduled meetings are done via video conferencing. There’s a reassurance that everything is still okay when we can actually see each other, and people need the social interaction and face-to-face conversation they previously had in the office.
  3. Lighten up. Share funny memes; host a virtual after-work happy hour; post pictures of pets, new projects or family. If leadership does this first, others will feel comfortable to follow suit.
  4. Maintain transparency. With all the unknowns created by the virus, do everything you can to keep employee anxiety at a minimum by sharing information. To support your efforts, see our COVID-10 Communication Best Practices Checklist.
  5. Help employees boost their online confidence. For some of your employees, this is the first time they’ve had to rely so heavily on digital communication. It can be embarrassing to be exposed for digital ineptitude, so offer some tutorials or let employees know you’re happy to offer a “test session” of your intranet, video conferencing technology or online collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams or Slack.
  6. Encourage dedicated workspaces. Having a space at home that’s set-up for work promotes a professional attitude while also making it easier to “tune out” when the workday concludes.
  7. Protect employee wellness. Reinforce availability of your company’s existing wellness resources or forward links to community services that may be helpful. This should include support for physical, mental and financial wellbeing. Consider supporting employee interests by reimbursing the cost of their app or online group for things such as online yoga sessions, parenting help, telephonic therapy sessions or online financial planning advice.
  8. Ask for input and mutual support. Find out what your team needs to ease their situation. If possible, check in with each employee privately and individually. If this isn’t possible, discuss pain-points as a group or distribute a survey and follow up with an email letting everyone know you’re ready to assist in any way possible. It may be helpful to start the discussion by sharing your own struggles – we all have them – and encourage your team to help each other as well. Perhaps one person can’t find something they need at a store or another may need ideas or resources for elderly parents. Helping others is great therapy.
  9. Upgrade your technology. Frustration related to technology is the last thing anyone needs right now. Provide a 24-hour IT help line; offer assistance and tech upgrades, where available.
  10. Remind everyone they are still part of a team. Isolation can breed insecurity. Let employees know they remain a valued team member and their jobs will continue as before. Design special apparel or office supplies that reinforce their connection to the company and each other.

What are other ways you’ve supported your own team during these times? Please share your tips and details so we can all learn from each other!