In my blog post last week, I introduced Qumu’s new Work from Wherever, Whenever policy – our approach to the hyper-distributed workforce that takes into consideration the need to support, respect and manage employees’ time and location.
Today, I’d like to share five key initiatives Qumu implemented as part of the policy, that aim to maximize wellness and engagement in a remote work environment.
- Designated No-Meeting Times – Focus Fridays: Being on real-time video conference calls all day creates a psychological and emotional drain different from typical workplace fatigue. We thus instituted Focus Fridays with no pre-scheduled internal meetings / video conferences to help eliminate physical and emotional fatigue resulting from back to back to back meetings, and create the dedicated opportunity to focus on getting work done and other key activities.
- The response has been incredible. Employees say it’s a weekly break from “always on” and frees people to regain control to “do what they need to do.” Since instituting Focus Fridays, employees are more productive in less time, allowing them to step away from their desks early or have lunch with their kids, yet get more done. The program has been so successful that we have started to introduce an “intermittent collaboration” approach to time blocks throughout the week.
- Off-Hours Expectations: Easier said than done, but we need to create boundaries for employees so they don’t feel like they should always be on or available. A “zero expectation of response” rule eliminates the pressure to respond or check their emails after a specific time. We find this frequently impacts more junior staff, as they feel more internal pressure to respond to emails outside of work time, but in reality impacts everyone. While there are always those times where an off-hour response may be necessary, by implementing this approach, Qumu provides a better, clearly defined line between work time and personal time when working from home.
- Collaborative Wellness: We recently implemented Wellness Wednesdays to help our employees focus on healthy, balanced daily experiences. From fitness to nutrition, mental wellness, and time management, we provide resources and teachings every Wednesday to help our employees remain balanced and maintain both mental and physical health. We also have a Slack channel devoted to wellness tips and tricks, including regular competitions where employees can show each other how they’re staying healthy. Employees are doing online meditation, mindfulness and self-help sessions through a corporate-sponsored wellness app, and some started a Qumu Peloton channel to share advice on instructors and courses. Other activities focus more on socialization, including our recent virtual talent show, social hours, and get-to-know your Qumunity activities.
- We’re also doing a series on schedule management to help employees control their schedules and feel good about saying no to meetings. We introduced “burstable meetings” and new video conference guidelines as part of the schedule management series, where staff learn how to shorten and cluster meetings to make them more effective. For example, we recommend using asynchronous video messages prior to meetings to provide important background information, so meeting time is used to make critical decisions without unnecessary discussions. All of these efforts are making our teams more productive, but more importantly giving them back the one truly priceless asset — time.
- Employee Feedback Loops: We’ve set up an anonymous virtual suggestion box where employees can provide feedback or ideas. We’re also putting together an internal focus group to gather and incorporate feedback on new initiatives before leadership implements them. We want every employee to be an active participant in the programs we’re creating at Qumu, and I firmly believe every leader, especially in the C-suite, should feel the same. That level of feedback and transparency will not only help to show how you’re doing as a leader but integrates a diversity of ideas and perspectives into the decision-making process. If your employees don’t feel supported, heard or valued, they’re less likely to participate in feedback, or remain fully engaged in meeting company goals.
- Increased Access to Senior Leadership: It may feel like a throwback to your college days, but our senior leadership team is in the process of implementing set virtual “office hours.” Sounds old school, but it is all “new school” in this new virtual, hyper-distributed workplace. Employees are welcome to book time with us in those timeslots to talk about anything that’s on their mind. That time is theirs to use how the see fit, whether they need our guidance, they’re going through a hard time personally, or just want to chat through a work problem. We have already received feedback that greater one on one access to our executives is highly appreciated. And it’s mutually beneficial. It not only provides a forum for our employees but makes it easier for each of us to get to know our employees on a deeper level, and it helps our employees be more connected to us.
In managing in this new hyper-distributed remote workplace, there won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution to keeping employees engaged and healthy. It is important to know your culture, know your people, be transparent, and adjust based on your business needs and teams. However, I have found the following tenets are fairly universal:
- Be proactive about wellness and employee engagement
- Create inclusive programs for all employees no matter where they’re located
- Listen to your employees
- Listen to your employees (yes I said it twice because it is that important)
- Be flexible, and adjust as needed; don’t be afraid to implement something new and pivot as necessary
If you incorporate these principles into your culture, you will be well on your way to ensuring a happy, healthy and engaged remote workforce. If you have other thoughts, ideas or suggestions, please reach out to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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