23 April 2020

Engaging the workforce virtually (5 top tips for staying connected)

by Jacey Bunker

As a busy marketing agency, with clients across the globe, our senior team is pretty used to working remotely. But when COVID-19 hit, and the rest of the team were suddenly required to work from home, it was important that we created the right framework to keep staff connected and motivated and to look after everyone’s wellbeing.

Here, we share our top tips for engaging your workforce remotely.

1. Communicate

In this time of uncertainty, your staff will be looking to your senior team for guidance and reassurance. You might not have all the answers but taking the time to give regular updates and being open and honest will go a long way towards helping your workforce stay calm and in control.

A retail client is holding weekly townhall meetings with over 1,000 store managers in attendance. At BWP, we have a CEO address at the start of every week, where we give an update on the business and give colleagues an opportunity to check in and ask questions. Each company will have different requirements but making time to connect is vital to keep your workforce engaged.

2. Find the right platform for you

Where once there was Skype, now there’s a plethora of video conferencing tools and cloud-based file-sharing systems. As the pandemic spread, we spent some time road-testing different tech platforms to ensure we had the right solution for our needs. Again, each business will be different. For us, we use Microsoft Teams for one-to-one chats, team calls, instant messaging and file sharing. But when it comes to BWP’s infamous Friday Drinks, we nip to Zoom to allow as many faces on the screen as possible. How else do you play a game of Virtual Guess Who?

3. Don’t force it

It might be tempting to keep checking in with your team, but this will start to hamper productivity. Constant calls disrupt the natural flow of work and will begin to feel forced. If you don’t have anything to update the team on, don’t call.

4. Have structure but be flexible

For people working from home, a sense of routine is important. We try and protect a couple of hours in the morning and in the afternoon where we avoid calls if we can to give people the time they need to actually deliver the work.

But, with so much uncertainty and worry in the world, there’s never been a better time to try and find a little more balance. So, do keep those important weekly updates in but also allow your staff the flexibility to do a virtual yoga class mid-morning, to do a supply run early afternoon when it’s quieter, to do a one-to-one whilst they’re out for a walk. At BWP, we’ve been offering flexible working for some time and our onsite gym can be booked throughout the day. It’s this kind of trust and empowerment that will ensure your workforce stays motivated and loyal.

5. Embrace the change

Whilst COVID-19 surprised us all, this has also presented us with an opportunity to really harness remote working and to make it work. Deployed correctly, remote working can increase productivity, improve staff morale and attract brilliant new talent. Having a workforce with great mental wellbeing and the space to think is key to building a successful business now and in the future.

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