How are your people coping with working from home and the prospect of continuing to do so for another six months following this week’s Government announcement?
While satisfaction levels among older employees have been generally positive, reactions from younger workers are less enthusiastic. One of the biggest challenges is the loss of office camaraderie. For younger employees in particular, work life is much more than what you are paid to do. Stripping away social aspects like catching up with colleagues on Monday morning, office banter or drinks after work has a natural bearing on the culture of an organisation and, in our case, interacting with our members promotes happiness and wellbeing within our team.
According to a LinkedIn survey, millennials are more likely than older generations to say that having friends in the workplace impacts them positively, with half saying it makes them more motivated, and 57% happier. Camaraderie also has a direct bearing on loyalty; research from software company Speakap shows that 58% of respondents would take a job with a competitor if they had a better culture.
New recruits working from home are a particular cause for concern. According to Business Insider, ‘the first three months of a job can be crucial to setting yourself up for achievements down the line and for establishing an office social life’. Building relationships and making friends during those formative months is much harder in the virtual workplace.
Evidence is emerging that remote working is having a negative effect on the wellbeing of young employees. Research by Question & Retain, the insights agency, revealed that 66% of those working from home aged 25 or below show one or more signs of mental ill-health with 1:5 experiencing extremely high and low moods or social withdrawal.
So how can you engender camaraderie in a remote team? The key is to put in place ways of working that encourage bonding and friendships to develop naturally, albeit remotely. Here are five thoughts to get you started:
• Create a challenge in which people will interact with some colleagues they normally don’t work with – i.e. engage your team in a charity initiative like our #London2London challenge.
• Give people space to engage in non-work conversations, by making time for personal chit-chat before meetings and introducing a virtual equivalent of the office watercooler.
• Establish a virtual mentorship programme for new recruits with dedicated team buddies to nurture a true sense of belonging.
• Introduce virtual team bonding rituals from Friday happy hour to the office wellbeing challenge to celebration of team and individual achievements. A business contact of mine mentioned to me this week the concept of ‘fika’ that he is building into his business.
• Recognise the power of the physical workplace in building camaraderie and, once restrictions are lifted, give all employees the opportunity to combine face to face and remote working.