Article originally posted by John Occhipinti at ReadWrite
Working from home is more than a temporary trend. Given that economists at the University of Chicago estimate 37% of jobs in the United States can be performed entirely at home, most experts believe it’s here to stay.
That’s why NatureBox assembled an All-Star panel of speakers from some of the most progressive companies to answer questions, share best practices, and offer insights about how to keep work-from-home teams engaged and address the most pressing topics and challenges facing managers and employees working from home today.
The topics we covered in this webinar include:
- Concerns about managing teams remotely
- Decreased employee morale
- False reads on productivity
- Home/life distractions
- Keeping an eye on sustainability, thought leadership, and the new impacts on the environment
In case you missed it, you can watch the webinar recording below
Startling statistics about the remote workforce
According to Global Workplace Analytics, 80% of employees want to work from home. The trouble with this? 85% of managers are concerned about their ability to manage their teams remotely.
Check out the graphic below for specific managerial concerns.
That’s a lot of concern. So, what’s the solution? We asked our panel of experts and here’s what they said.
Employee and management engagement during COVID
Distractions at home are rampant. Productivity is getting harder to manage. We’re finding it harder to take breaks and sign off at a decent hour while working from home. A great question from our audience was what guidance do you have for leadership to encourage boundaries?
Roni Sternberg from Lyra Health said when it comes to her company, 12 PM is blocked for employees. It’s their time – no meetings, no outgoing emails, no scheduled anything. “It’s coming from our leadership. He’s encouraging everyone to take that break, to take that pause,” she said.
John Ruhlin from Giftology spoke about using thoughtful, personalized gifts as a way managers could engage with employees. “I think there are opportunities to surprise and delight your teams at scale… but the details have to be dialed in.” He also spoke about how leaders set the tone, echoing Sternberg.
Practical tips for keeping remote employees engaged
While all companies are learning to manage engagement online the best they can, large companies have their work cut out for them. An interesting question from our audience was for companies with over 1,000 employees, what are some ideas for rolling out coffee nights, movie nights, etc.?
Basically, how do you engage with employees virtually on a grand scale? Lynne Oldham from Zoom chimed in first: “We use Zoom, obviously.”
Oldham suggested leveraging “Breakout Rooms” of 2-3 people, which makes for a more rich experience. She said that at Zoom, they send people a movie coupon, let people watch it on their own, and will get together to have a discussion after.
This virtual experience is similar to what NatureBox put together a few months ago – a book club about social justice. “We wanted to educate ourselves about it. It was a meaningful conversation on Zoom and showed we cared as a team about what we were doing,” John Occhipinti, CEO of NatureBox, said.
Understanding that we’re on Zoom much more now than ever before, it’s also important to know how to manage “Zoom fatigue.” We heard from Oldham first. “By taking some degree of control and figuring out how you can set aside time. Are there things we can do, like block 12 PM off?”
The importance of taking breaks, even if you had to schedule them in, was repeated time and time again throughout this webinar. And not only that but how it’s up to managers to set the tone and lead by example.
Predictions for the future of the remote workforce
Out of all the great questions from the audience, the most pressing question of them all was this: Will we ever go back to normal? Are there systemic changes in the workforce we should look out for?
“Based on the statistics you shared, people are saying they’re enjoying working from home. We’re making it work and finding some success in it. That’s why it’s important we identify the challenges before they become large challenges. I think we’ll have a good mix of in-office and remote working when the world changes,” Sternberg said.
Ruhlin had a similar thought about there being a mix of remote and in-person working because “companies are realizing, ‘Do I really need all of that space or could I cut it in half, by quarter and have times we’re getting together as a team?’ He also noted that as human beings, we still want to interact with people, making it incredibly important for leaders to build a culture of internal engagement.
Oldham thinks the winners of the future are going to be the companies that adapt. The ones that think long and hard about what work has to happen in person and then think long and hard about how to make that happen. Instead of returning to work as normal, they’re going to rethink work as a whole. “This is one grand experiment,” she said.
Occhipinti closed out the discussion on the future with these final thoughts: “As leaders, it’s about authentic leadership and how we remain engaged with our employees.”
Right now, NatureBox is in the business of helping companies keep their employees engaged while they work from home. That’s what it’s all about. Our mission to change the way people think about snacking – from an unconscious effort to a mindful snacking experience – is why we created the largest collection of great-tasting adaptogenic snacks. And made them accessible in-office and at home. Our snacks work great as employee morale boosters, one-time gifts, tasty treats for events, and ongoing micro-kitchen snacks. If your in-person or remote teams are looking to stock up on healthy, flavorful snacks that taste as good as they’ll make them feel, head over to our Corporate Snacking page to get started.