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Remote Workers Search for Normalcy in an Unfamiliar Environment

COVID-19 Weekly Culture Pulse Survey: March 30-April 3, 2020

Two-thirds of employees who find themselves working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic are doing so for the first time in their careers.

To make the unexpected transition, many are looking for ways to make remote work more comfortable. Our weekly pulse survey revealed some of the ways workers are trying to make remote work feel a bit more normal. Here’s what makes these newly remote employees successful:


Establish a daily schedule or routine


A strong majority of those working remotely are focusing on creating a daily routine to help them be successful. When we asked employees what part of their new efforts have helped them do this, they shared three top behaviors:

MAKING A “VIRTUAL COMMUTE”

Employees are still taking some time before they log in for “virtual commuting.” This includes activities like grabbing coffee, listening to a favorite podcast/audio book, or tuning in to a favorite news program. It allows them to keep as much of their morning routine intact as possible.

RESERVING “ME TIME”

Those surveyed also reported being more aggressive in scheduling lunch and breaks than they were in an office setting, particularly because they are now meeting more often with people than previously.

TAKING TIME TO SOCIALIZE

Many reported they are regularly creating time with others to socialize—with a “no work” rule, just like they would do in the cafeteria or at the water cooler.

66.4% of employees now working from home are doing so for the first time.

—COVID-19 CULTURE PULSE SURVEY: MARCH 30–APRIL 3, 2020


Seek team support and learn to work together


Working remotely successfully requires company support and additional team efforts. Our survey found that two in three employees newly working from home have received the necessary tools to do their job. In other words, most organizations are on top of supporting newly remote workers.

But remote work is more than learning how to work from home. It’s also about learning to work with others who may also be operating in a new environment. Based on our research, teams reported that following activities can be helpful when working as a team:

SET UP A DAILY TOUCHBASE

This check-in, ranging from 15-30 minutes, allows the team to discuss work, individual needs, time away, etc. Team members are pressed to be more open with each other, and because of that, they are learning more about each other.

BE OPEN ABOUT YOUR ROUTINE

When teams are transparent, there are no surprises when people are offline. One respondent explained, “We created a shared calendar and marked our hours in. This has been so helpful—I know when to expect an answer from someone in the day, and when they have ‘gone home’ for the day.”

RECOGNIZE YOUR PEERS

Survey participants report a 12% increase in peer recognition. When team members have recognized great work in the past few weeks, it has resulted in 24% more success and a 38% increase in engagement.

“All of my teammates offered to help cover, some saying they can change other meetings in order to help. I was almost brought to tears.”

—COVID-19 CULTURE PULSE SURVEY: MARCH 30–APRIL 3, 2020


Help newly remote employees adjust


Interestingly, this crisis has forced people to be more trusting with each other, particularly in that they are trying their best. It has also increased empathy for one another. This week’s research implies that leaders can reinforce these positive feelings by encouraging greater communication and by sharing appreciation.

HELP THEM STAY IN TOUCH

In last week’s survey, we reported why it’s important for immediate teams to encourage constant communication, including video conferencing, daily standup calls, and group chat. All these methods are on the rise in recent weeks.

PROMOTE LEADER RECOGNITION

Although peer recognition is up, as mentioned, leader recognition is actually down. Leaders should keep recognition flowing. When they take time to appreciate during this time, there is an astounding 181% increase in the perception of support.

GIVE THEM PERMISSION TO BE HONEST

When people work at home, things happen. When they do, show empathy and concern. One respondent shared, “I used our daily check-in to ask for help covering a meeting the next day—I ran out of milk and desperately needed to get to the grocery store at opening. All of my teammates offered to help cover. I was almost brought to tears.” Another respondent recalled, “I was worried. I had to tell people how much work I still haven’t gotten done. I just didn’t know what to do other than ask for help. So I did, and people were so nice. It was okay, and others were also dealing with it. I felt like I belonged on that team more than I have in a long time.”

As employees find more normalcy in their remote work, they will feel more secure, increase their productivity, and show appreciation when they get the kind of support they need. The majority of them may not have worked from home in the past, but they can find comfort that others are going through the same experiences—and that their peers and leaders have their backs.


Stay tuned to our COVID-19 weekly culture pulse surveys for insights that will help your organization to weather the storm.

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