Whether we want it or not, in the software and web development industry remote work is a new reality.
I know many executives are not happy with this fact and still believe they can get their employees back to the office once the pandemic is over. Some even differentiate the salaries for those working in the office and those preferring to stay at home.
Yet according to the Buffer research, the staggering 99% of people plan to work remotely for the rest of their career.
So if you want your company to win the best people on the market, there's no way you can do it by prohibiting remote work.
Now, for sure remote work brings advantages not only for employees but also for organizations. This is a separate topic worth an extra blog post. The question is, if you're ready to adopt it, what are the best ways to keep the spirit of a physically separated team?
I believe the main idea behind the HR department is caring about people and their well-being. So the first step is to figure out what's bothering those who work remotely.
The Sound of Silence: Top Cons of Remote Work
When people think of remote work, they first imagine the comfort of their apartment, a flexible schedule, and the absence of tiring daily commutes.
Indeed, remote work is proven to be less stressful, but at the same time, it also brings more responsibility.
You need to build up and follow your schedule to be accessible in predictable hours.
You're ought to organize your workplace to reach office-level effectiveness.
And to focus on your job well, you'll want to stay away from all kinds of digital and physical distractions.
Like if this is not enough to bear for a single person, there are also problems like unreasonable workloads and lack of connection to their team, which leads to 58% of such employees losing the larger purpose of their job within an organization.
This is where the HR department comes into play. Well, at least in our mobile app agency.
Working 9 To 5: Getting Back To Office
The first thing you should do is get a place where your employees can come, work, and socialize.
Because some people can get tired of sitting at home most of the time. Other people don't always have an opportunity to do that, especially if they're living with other family members.
Having a dedicated place to organize a meeting or simply spend a day with people you usually work with remote is a great way to cheer your team up and get them to know each other better.
Most executives agree with me on the necessity of having an office:
The approach combining office and remote work is called 'hybrid work', and it looks like it's going to bring the best from both worlds for web and app development companies. Executives will be able to hire all kinds of people, from those unwanting to work from home to those who live at the other end of the world. And employees will have more freedom choosing where they want to work.
In 2021, we at EGO Creative Innovations decided to finally rent an office again after a long break. If you want to know more about how we did it, check out my post Getting Back to Office: 5 Things to Keep in Mind From a VP of HR.
In this post, I mentioned that at EGO, we also have joint Friday breakfasts just for fun, talk, and banter. Because meetings and spending time working in an office is only one and the most straightforward way to help the team members keep in touch with each other. And establishing traditions aimed to unite people is an extra thing that makes everybody feel special in the team and creates long-lasting, positive memories about the company.
Lean On Me: 5 Team-Building Practices That Work Best For Us
Organizing activities in the office is the old way of maintaining team spirit. I don't think I can say something new here, so let's get back to the reality of remote work.
Here's what we've been able to come up with:
Online corporate parties
On the New Year of 2021, we were still unable to organize an offline party. So we decided to make it online so that we could keep the tradition of holding the annual Best Employee of the Year award ceremony. Since it was an exclusive event, most of our people showed up and actually had fun.
Board games in Zoom
We were actually surprised to find out that this is actually a trend during a pandemic. In our region, we have quite a lot of word games, and we also had fun playing Monopoly and a variation of Jeopardy. Though not a true board game, Mafia also fits perfectly for the Zoom format.
Yes, they're here and they're more important than ever. A summer corporate party, karting and quadricycle competitions, adventure park, and even bar raids — we had all of that in 2021, and for many of us in our web and mobile app development team, those were the brightest memories of the year.
Whenever we make new branded cups, notepads, pens, T-shirts, and so on, the first batch goes to our team. Our clients and partners get them later. It might not mean much for some, but it's one more way for us to show our appreciation of what our people mean to us.
Celebrating each person's important days.
Caring about people means respecting their individualities. So we keep track of their important dates. These are mostly birthdays (including the birthdays of those they care about most) and anniversaries, but we're open to knowing more about everyone. And once the important date comes, we all spare a minute to praise this person for being a part of our team. In most cases, our HR team also sends people a gift via mail — on behalf of the whole company, of course.
Debate Exposes Doubt: Does it Really Work?
As an HR, you might have a question roaming in your head: does all of that really work for everybody? Indeed, maybe we're just lucky with the team. Maybe great execution matters more than the idea itself.
And then, for an app development team of only 60 people, can we introduce a metric that would help us measure the effectiveness of our team-building practices? I don't think so.
What I really believe in is that when we're talking about people, it's not the numbers and formulas that help us succeed. It's the way we're feeling about things we do. And for that, a good HR expert must be in touch with every company team member so that they could expose their feedback freely.
Yet to remain on close terms with so many people, you need to create regular opportunities to make such contact possible. Opportunities I've talked about above.
Creating opportunities and keeping rapport — these are probably the Yin and Yang of a great team spirit.