Building a Company Culture with Remote Workers

At the risk of using a platitude that is becoming (frankly) more and more clichéd, your employees need you to be their rock more than ever in these unprecedented times.

This particularly is so if a good portion – if not all – of your workers work remotely.

But there’s the problem: how to exude empathy and provide that stability and feeling of normalcy when your employees don’t work on-site. What’s more, without this feeling of solidity, is your entire company culture at risk? How can employees feel “a part of something larger than themselves” when their day-to-day lives are spent mostly with just themselves?

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Maintaining company culture with a remote workforce

  • First step: send out a memo or a website link that reminds your employees what your company’s values are.

Doing so reminds workers what your business stands for and can help them remember why they joined your firm. Seeing your business’ values in black and white also will help guide them as they move forward over the next few weeks and even months.

  • Regularly ask your employees what’s working for them as they toil remotely.

Use their feedback as a chance to learn from them and take their recommends to heart, if possible.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask every now and then if they feel less connected to your company’s mission and/or leadership.

You may want to ask these questions via private video meetings, so that workers feel comfortable speaking truthfully (and so that you can counsel them privately should they be struggling with issues of a more personal nature).

It’s also a great idea to make sure that you keep these types of two-way communications (either private or public) among workers, managers and even members of your company’s C-suite for the foreseeable future.

  • Showing kindness to everyone in your organization is key to creating a warm and motivating corporate culture.

The more your company’s leadership “show up” as sensitive, thoughtful, transparent/truthful, productive, and optimistic, the more all of your employees will “show up” the same. Everyone will remember this ethos, the acts of kindness, etc. for a long time to come and it will help all secure this type of “brand” firmly in everyone’s minds.

To help ensure that all of your stake holders (employees, managers, leadership team, investors/stock holders, perhaps even your vendors and customers) act in these ethos-building ways, they need to know what kind of behaviors you seek.

That means that you need to get input from everyone to identify the behaviors that speak the loudest to them and then let everyone know the behaviors with which they are expected to “show up.”

  • Create rituals, and stories that back up the behaviors and culture you want/expect.

Humans thrive on stories. Stories, in fact, help us become better people. They also help us connect with one another, an important factor in creating a robust, cohesive company culture.

Once again – and especially if the culture has change a bit – it’s a good idea to create a “map” with your business’ guiding principles and then distribute it to all stakeholders so that they have “directions” as to how to interact with others.

Having a strong work culture – one that is in evidence daily – helps employees feel secure when so much is up in the air.

As California continues to reopen its economy slowly, Southern California businesses may find that employees furloughed or laid off are no longer available to return to work. Helpmates has proven performers ready to work at your site or remotely for short- or long-term assignments, as well as for career opportunities. All of these individuals have been thoroughly oriented in Covid-19 workplace safe practices.

Contact Rosalie Villa, at 949-225-5016 or email her at mailto:rvilla@helpmates.com for more information. You also may reach out to the Helpmates branch nearest you to learn more.

Getting the New Normal Right for Your Workers

Things have started a (slow) return to “normalcy” here in California as Governor Newsom okayed a slow re-opening of the state’s economy on May 8.

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The fact is, more and more businesses soon will start to bring workers back to work and as the state’s economy very slowly reopens, your workers are going to need to get used to a new normal in the workplace:

  • Some will work from home full time.
  • Others will work from home part time.
  • Workers you need in an office or to work on-site may find that they have their schedules staggered.
  • Employers may need different policies for employees considered to be at higher risk of contracting the virus.
  • And so on.

Considerations for employers starting to reopen

First, understand that guidelines and even requirements may have changed by the time you read this. That said, here are some things experts (employment law attorneys, for example) believe employers may need to consider not only as they start to reopen for business, but also as additional restrictions are lifted over the coming months.

  • Employers may have to open in “phases.”

The CDC and the White House have recommended that the country reopen in phases (for example, golf courses and other outdoor venues first, retailers with curbside delivery next, gyms much later).

Yet employers also may want to get ready for opening in phases. That is: following government guidelines, employers may need to “open their individual business in phases by staggering the timeline for returning employees to work.” The idea is that employers need to “consider” which positions are most essential and start with those. Employers would need to orient on-site employees in Covid-19 safe workplace practices so that they can work at the employer’s location(s) as safely as possible.

  • Employers should plan for how they are going to deal with employees’ fears of returning to work.

While many laid off and furloughed workers may be thrilled at the opportunity to work again, others may not. In fact, some workers may be too afraid to return to work in the early stages of re-opening and employers may need to consult with their attorney regarding how to handle these employees.

In addition, many employers may be able to offer only part-time work, which could have an adverse impact on employees’ desire to return, especially if they were laid off and collecting unemployment insurance. Again, a chat with an employment law attorney may be in order.

  • As they craft a re-opening plan, employers will need to give special consideration of those workers considered at “high risk” of either contracting the virus or of developing severe symptoms if they do contract the coronavirus.

As mentioned above, employers may want to consult an attorney regarding risks and liabilities regarding whether to bring such employees back to work and what they will do if they require employees to return and what then happens if one or more high-risk employees is reluctant to do so. Employers’ actions will need to be balanced against the potential of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and other anti-discrimination laws (such as age discrimination as individuals at higher risk of severe symptoms tend to be people age 65 and older).

  • Employers may have to reconfigure their site’s physical layout.

Social distancing guidelines will need to be followed during re-opening for the foreseeable future and so employers may need to reconfigure workspaces. Employers also may want to reconsider having employees gather in large(ish) groups, such as in cafeterias/lunch rooms and conference rooms. If so, employers will still need to provide workers with sanitary places to have lunch and take breaks.

Additional strategies employers may want or need to consider include:

  • Requiring that employees wear face masks when around others.
  • Placing signs throughout the workplace that remind employees and customers to practice social distancing, especially in hallways, offices, lobbies, etc.
  • Ensuring that workers practice social distance during shift changes.
  • Establish a maximum capacity for public and employee restrooms.
  • Consider modifying frequently touched objects, such as installing touchless water faucets in restrooms and foot pedals to open doors.
  • Holding fewer in-person meetings.
  • Creating or revising “crowd” plans, such as setting a maximum number of workers and visitors that may be on-site at any one time.
  • And more.

We anticipate California’s re-opening to be something of a “learn as we go along” experience, with employers and workers – and the government – guiding each other as we move back to some normality. We therefore urge all of us – employers and their employees – to move carefully and with great consideration and understanding.

Helpmates can help employers navigate their reopening as we diligently work to stay on top of Covid-19 safe practices. We also ensure our specialists receive orientation on these practices before they head out on assignment and update them immediately as changes occur.

Contact the Helpmates branch nearest you or reach out to Rosalie Villa, CSP, our chief revenue officer, for more information on our Covid-19 safe practices orientation at rvilla@helpmates.com.

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