We’re six months into the pandemic that sent our team scrambling home from our offices in Chicago and London. Like so many others, we had no idea what to expect. However, we relied on our instincts – after all, we live and breathe employee engagement – and have just posted a record quarter for the books. We’re going to share with you the approach a bunch of employee engagement pros took to keep ourselves connected to our culture, our purpose, and our customers, and what we’ve learned as a result.
Creating a great work environment – at home
We’re also proud of (and really excited about!) a new program our founder, Stefan Wissenbach, rolled out to the team a couple of weeks ago.
As you’ll see from the rest of this post, we’ve put a lot of thought into structuring our days and our communications to support ourselves as we work from home. However, we weren’t immune to the fact that in many cases, our homes are better suited to living, not working.
We know we’re not alone, as we drape ourselves over armchairs, balance our laptops on our knees and perch uncomfortably at our kitchen counters, rubbing the kinks in our necks. The rise in back and neck problems caused by hunching over a laptop on a coffee table is well documented in articles with headlines like “The Pandemic of Work from Home Injuries”, published in the New York Times earlier this year.
Providing a great work environment is a core tenant of Stefan’s philosophy as a leader, and he realized as well as the team has been doing while working remotely, we could do even more if everyone was working comfortably.
To that end, Stefan decided to provide an allowance to each employee to use to purchase furniture to improve their at-home setup, and make their living spaces more conducive to working comfortably.
It’s a lot of money, for sure. However, when you look at the cost of just one disengaged employee, the investment is a bargain. On average, disengaged employees cost their employers $3,400 for every $10,000 they make. Ensuring employees are healthy and comfortable while working from home speaks directly to a core driver of employee engagement – leadership’s concern for employee well-being.
Here’s the Working From Home & Winning support plan in detail – we hope it inspires other leaders to invest in their own teams’ comfort.
How an employee engagement company handled the pandemic
Once we were all set up in our homes, we quickly realized that we’d need to take steps to preserve – or more accurately, re-create – the in-office routines that served us so well.
We started by turning the daily stand-up into a virtual meeting that is geared toward getting everyone energized, connected and focused on the day ahead.
We also started meeting daily at the close of business. From the outset, Stefan was insistent that we resist the temptation to keep working. The meeting we hold at the end of the day is called “That’s a Wrap!” and it’s meant to signal the end of the working day.
As a person, the team embraced the changes. In fact, we found that we were talking to each other even more, and collaborating more freely. Stefan challenged us to note what was working so well for us, and make it part of the SOP moving forward, irrespective of whether we were working in the office or from home.
Additionally, Stefan kept the team thinking specifically about how we interact and communicate. During the initial months of quarantine, we evolved our meeting structure into what we now call the EPIC Meeting (™). We’ve read books, learned to Bullet Journal, and adopted Slack to facilitate more real-time chatting. Stefan has also challenged us to recognize the temporary gift of the increased time we all have available, now that we’re no longer commuting, and to use it well. As a result, we now have some French students, athletes-in training, budding chefs, and aspiring artists among us.
We also take the same surveys we offer to clients, to gather more focused and specific feedback, so we can continually fine-tune our company – together. In addition to remaining firmly in the upper realms of engagement scores, the positive impact of the approach we’ve taken shows up in the employee feedback:
What can I say, whilst balancing a business where cash flow has been hit hard by COVID-19 alongside the ongoing personal challenges affecting his family, Stefan has continued to lead from the front. Remaining completely focused and providing every employee with the ability to remain positive, feel safe in their role, and come up with a brand new initiative that will ensure we return from COVID stronger than ever before. Thank you, Stefan.
We have all seen the impact of this last quarter. I feel our two teams (UK & US) have, for the first time, really come together as one. I have never felt so connected and energised by the team we have. TEAM EM!
This last quarter has been incredible! I feel the business, more than ever, has invested in me and my personal goals. I feel more connected to my team than ever before, and I am proud of the way we have come together during this very difficult time
If you’d like to take a deeper dive into ways to keep you remote teams clicking, our new ebook is loaded with tips and ideas.