Before COVID-19, most of Reward Gateway’s work, collaboration, and communication happened online, but just like many businesses today are experiencing for the first time, transitioning our entire workforce to be fully remote teams has proven to be a difficult shift. Although our leadership prepared for the worst, our teams have continued to delight our customers, and employees have remained motivated to do their best work.
How did we do it? The key to this success has been a combination of timely and clear communication, aligning each person to the company’s mission, values and strategy, and using our HR Tech tools, which include our own employee engagement platform that we offer to our clients as well as the 15Five solution.
The closure of our offices didn’t come as a surprise, but when the closure was official, we communicated through all our comms channels, as well as some new channels that were created to accommodate questions and share work-from-home tips.
Overnight, our leadership team pulled together an incident management team, and with the guidance of our Head of Global Engagement and Internal Communications, we gathered an emergency communication plan to focus on three key goals:
1. Safety and welfare of all employees and their families
2. Ensuring business continuity
3. Preventing further escalation
Our communications team created a coronavirus hub on our employee engagement platform (boom!) to contain all the important information for everyone to access quickly and easily. This not only offered important resources for employees but helped to mitigate the fear so that our people could rest assured that our mission will continue.
Every person and team in the company has stepped up to ensure we all remain closely connected and supported as fully remote teams. This has played a valuable role in helping the company remain resilient in the face of big change.
Our IT team has thoughtfully ensured that everyone has the technology they need to do their job and have been sending technology to our new hires’ homes fully set up and ready to go.
Recruiters and Managers have adapted quickly and interviews and onboarding have been done entirely online. The feedback has been incredible from both sides.
Managers have come together to share their tips for remote onboarding in our manager’s Slack channels. In fact, they were so quick to adapt, RG’s Learning and Development team have been able to support from the sidelines rather than take over the conversation.
Other communities outside of work have organically gathered, such as RG parents. With schools closing around the globe, they’ve built a large support system for parents learning to homeschool and have collectively accumulated online resources for kids of different ages.
Here are five practices used by RG leaders to help overcome some of the challenges of shifting to fully remote teams:
1. Over-communicate. Daily team standup meetings, random matching of people for chats, virtual drop-in sessions, colleague lunch video calls, leadership team internal blog posts and more 15Five Check-ins—these are all things you can do to ensure your people are staying connected throughout the week.
2. Don’t forget the fun element. We recommend doing activities that don’t involve work at all, like playing online games or dedicating meetings for a casual chat. The RG people and workspace teams now have daily social meetings where activities include yoga, quizzes, cooking classes delivered by team members, and company-wide Desert Island Discs. Our other teams are joining in the fun with online board games, virtual drinks (Quaratini’s), and so much more.
3. Stay safe online. Having fully remote teams means we’re using digital communication more than ever before. This inevitably increases the risk of things like security breaches, so it’s important to help your people get news from trusted sources.
4. Recognize your colleagues. Recognition is critical to increasing morale, positively, and mental health. At RG, we created new eCards through our own employee engagement platform aligned to the strategic behaviors that we know will help connect our fully remote workforce.
5. Set boundaries. This advice is from RG’s CEO, Doug Butler. Working from home doesn’t mean that your new office is open 24/7. Flexibility is key, so work when you need to or when you’re most productive, but don’t forget to set your limits and shut off Slack and all other work apps when your work is done. Your health and wellbeing are the company’s number-one priority.
15Five has helped us at RG to maintain our culture and continue building meaningful connections. We use the 15Five Check-ins to allow team members and their managers to stay in touch and share feedback. We use 1-on-1s for more structured monthly performance conversations, and we use Objectives to help keep everyone focused on our goals and our mission.
These features have become especially vital since the closing of each of our offices. And while we haven’t changed how we use 15Five, we’ve continued to lean on the solution to help our teams continue business as usual while navigating uncertainty.
In the end, what matters most during this difficult time is finding what works for you and allowing yourself downtime and flexibility. Schedule your work hours around other activities that are important to you, such as spending time with your family, walking the dog, exercise, hobbies. Like every tough moment in life, this too will pass, and we will all come out of it better people for having pulled it together and staying connected.
Dimitrina Kirova is Head of Learning at Reward Gateway.