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team working together

Team morale and cohesion is paramount for maintaining productivity and efficiency in the modern business world. However, it is also one of the first things that starts to erode when you switch to the remote work model. Even if your teams are still working from the office, chances are that productivity and cohesion are going to start to diminish in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. After all, the COVID prevention rules urge people to avoid getting into close contact and to keep themselves at a fair distance from each other.

While this is good for general health and safety, it can be disastrous for your teams’ morale and collaboration. That said, this doesn’t mean that the matter is out of your hands. In fact, there is plenty you can do to preserve the all-around efficiency of your operation, both remotely and on-site.

Today, we are taking a closer look at employee and team management during the COVID-19 crisis, and giving you the blueprint to unite your teams, boost cohesion and collaboration, and improve the quality of work in the upcoming year.

Create a designated culture-development team

One of the first things that start deteriorating as soon as people start working remotely is your company’s culture. The culture in your company is a foundational element of efficiency, happiness, and success in the workplace, and it is typically something that you can only nurture under the right circumstances. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to keep their distance or switch to remote work entirely, maintaining this culture can be a difficult challenge. But, it’s essential for team morale. 

The first thing you need to do is to create a designated team that will devote their full attention to nurturing and further developing your workplace culture and boost team morale. Whether they are working remotely or at the office, this team should work daily on preserving and instilling the right values in your company and your employee collective.

Make sure that this team gets a proper leader and a representative from every department. This way, people will voice the unique concerns and problems different departments might be facing internally. Also, in regard to cross-department relations. What’s more, you need to make sure that this team is developing your company culture on the right values.

In a nutshell, these values are:

  • Honesty
  • Transparency
  • Equality
  • Co-dependence
  • Mutual trust
  • Respect
  • Accountability

Eliminate department silos and foster cross-department collaboration

One of the biggest risks of remote work and working on-site during the COVID-19 pandemic is the quick formation of team and department silos. A department silo simply means that one or more departments are “cut off” from the rest of the organisation. Occupying a distant corner of the company and doing its own thing without really interacting with anyone.

Always keep in mind that modern business is about cohesion and cross-department collaboration. This means that no department should be allowed to become an island in the grand scheme of things. Good teamwork is essential within departments but also between sectors. So, you should actively work on tearing down the walls between them and bring them together to boost team morale.

To do this, you can’t just tell people to start working together more often. Instead, you as the leader need to create a strategy and a clear plan. Here are the steps you need to take:

  • Identify team and department silos in your organization.
  • Analyze all communication and collaboration lanes.
  • Take a closer look at all projects and departments to identify the current and potential key stakeholders in each.
  • Identify communication problems and bottlenecks that occur between teams that might be hindering collaboration.
  • Create a clear communication hierarchy so that teams and departments know exactly whom to communicate with, how to communicate, and when to exchange information during important stages of every project.
  • Put all of this into a new policy and distribute it across your organization.
  • Make sure that everyone is on board with the new protocols. Monitor the performance of your new directives.

Boost employee engagement by enhancing connectivity

Whether everyone is working at the office, partially working from the office, or completely working remotely, you need to put a high emphasis on business-wide connectivity for all employees, teams, and departments. In the modern business world, you cannot afford to have a single employee or team cut off from the rest of the organisation due to poor connectivity. This leads to subpar performance across the board and it enhances the risk of human error at multiple stages of every open project and workflow.

Your employees need to feel engaged and involved in your organisation and all relevant tasks, so implementing advanced employee engagement solutions with the right tools and software is important if you want to better manage your teams, their work, as well as their interpersonal relationships. The tools you use should give you a deeper insight into the state of your employee collective, and help you better manage their time and work remotely.

Ideally, you will use a software solution that will help you communicate with employees more efficiently and in real-time, engage with them via their preferred channels, and engage with them through virtual notice boards and advanced mobile tools. This type of connectivity will keep everyone in the loop and create a more efficient work environment for all. 

Use a comprehensive project management system to help team morale

Of course, you can’t hope to run an efficient operation in the new normal without a reliable project manage tool. It’s important to note that technology is quickly transforming the business landscape, and that introducing comprehensive tools into your system can help you automate many processes, cut extraneous financial waste, and lead a more cohesive employee collective to success.

Regardless of the industry you’re in or the size of your business, you can improve productivity and output significantly by using a cloud-based PM tool that will enable on-site and remote teams to collaborate seamlessly and in real-time. When people are working together on projects and tasks while tracking all activity, they will have an easier time getting the work done while ensuring accountability across the board. Simply implementing a PM tool can therefore have positive effects on your work, morale, and team cohesion.

Organize online team-building events to boost team morale

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to eliminate any inessential group activities, and many businesses have had to switch to remote work entirely. This has created a culture of social distancing that might be good for public health, but is detrimental to your company culture, as we’ve mentioned before. However, that doesn’t mean that you should just sit and watch as your team members slowly drift apart.

It is essential that you preserve the values and culture you’ve built in order to preserve efficiency and productivity, and keep the best employees at your side. To do that, you need to find a way to keep organising team building events.

Of course, you can’t do this the old-fashioned way now that the risk of contagion is so high, which is why you should switch to online team-building events. Online events are easy enough to organise by simply sending out a Google Calendar invite to a shared digital conference room, but you need to have a specific theme in mind to keep people engaged. 

Luckily, there are many online team-building ideas for you to explore and execute during the pandemic, so make sure to research the best options and start planning right away. And remember, these events should serve the employees and their needs, so refrain from any work-related talk or activities.

Boost on-boarding with the buddy system

When new employees join your company, especially during the pandemic, they can feel completely out of place and confused by their new surroundings. Whether they are working remotely or on-site, your new employees need to become productive members of your organisation quickly. And that means that you need to onboard them efficiently and effectively.

There are many ways you can do this through training tools, welcome videos, and tutorials. But, one solution you might not have thought of is the buddy system. The buddy system is a simple concept. Pair one new employee with one experienced team member from the same department. And incentivise the latter to provide as much information and guidance to the newcomer as possible.

This will help the new employees feel at home from day one. But also, over time, it will strengthen the bond between them and their seasoned colleagues. 

Set various conflict-solving protocols

Last but not least, don’t fool yourself into thinking that the solutions we talked about today can prevent inter-personal conflict in your organisation. Conflict is bound to occur at some point. But, during the COVID-19 crisis, it can be severely detrimental to your business. By lowering morale, tearing down your culture and values, and pushing people away from each other.

During the pandemic, it is more important than ever before to have a clear and detailed approach to resolving conflicts. This is for both on-site and remote working. Be sure to work closely with your HR specialists to implement these protocols. And have a standard operating procedure for various types of conflicts and disputes in the workplace. That said, make sure to take a personalised approach to every problem afterward. Then you can really get to the bottom of the issue and reach a solution that benefits all parties.

Wrapping up

Disorganised and detached teams can ruin a business in the new normal. If you want to survive through the COVID-19 ordeal and even thrive in 2021, then make sure to implement these solutions. This will bring your teams together, boost communication and collaboration, and leverage technology to better manage your crucial human resources. 

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.

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