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    How to Support Staff’s Mental Health When Working from Home

    Since the announcement on the 22nd February 2021 that lockdown restrictions will be easing, there has been a 466.67% increase in Google searches for “returning to office”.
    Over the last year, the UK has had to adapt to a new way of working, especially with mental health affecting so many people working from home. A study done by Harvey Nash shows that 1 in 3 people reported that their mental health has deteriorated, while 26 percent of UK tech professionals have said that they are experiencing even higher levels of stress than they did before the pandemic.
    Researcher at the Institution of Organisational Safety and Health (IOSH) Kirsty Iliffe and leading commercial space provider, Bruntwood Works, have provided advice and some lessons learned from the past lockdowns when it comes to supporting employees mental health.
    Kirsty says; “The ongoing stress of the pandemic could lead to both physical and psychological damage and even depression and anxiety,” she goes on to add; As employers, organizations have a duty of care to help their employees and in many countries, they have a legal obligation to do so.”
    “It’s important that organizations are aware of the potential mental ill-health implications and ensure they are aware of their roles and responsibilities in supporting their teams.”
    1 – Have regular, honest one-to-ones
    Lockdown has changed the way we schedule our days. Previously, a manager’s office door was always open. Now, our communication has dwindled as the lockdowns go on, and we get used to working from home.
    Effective one-to-ones under the new measures look fundamentally different; they should be open, honest conversations about how we feel, what we’re worried about, and — most importantly — what’s helping us through it.
    “Keep in regular contact with remote workers,” says Kirsty. “This will help to avoid feelings of isolation and loneliness. It’s a good way to ensure that workers are well and that they understand any information and instructions presented to them.”
    During these conversations, you should let your staff set the agenda. This is the time for managers to listen more than anything else. Establishing a safe space where employees feel heard, can be a lifeline for those who are struggling.
    2 – Bring the office perks home with you
    Back in the office, business owners spent a lot of time understanding how their employees’ environment affected their productivity, meaning they were creating office perks that would encourage a friendly and productive environment, but when we entered lockdown this wasn’t an option anymore.
    Companies should continue to boost staff morale by finding ways to continue those perks outside of the office.
    Here are some of the most common office perks — and how you can replicate them remotely:

    Gym memberships — If the gyms are closed run a virtual fitness club instead. Share your results using a smartphone app and incentivize the winner with prizes like an afternoon off or an Amazon voucher.
    Free food — Used to getting free snacks or meals at the office? Send your staff vouchers to order themselves a tasty lunch a couple of times a month.
    Great internet — Most modern offices have fast internet speeds to cope with staff being logged on eight hours a day, but it’s tricky to replicate that at home. Invest in some signal boosters for staff who are having trouble with their home internet connection.
    Office games — Missing the foosball table in the office? Luckily, there’s a ton of virtual games you can challenge teammates to instead. You can play Pictionary, Scrabble, and even chess online. Start a leaderboard to see who’s doing best on your team!

    3 – Share some good news
    When everyone was first put into lockdown, we were obsessively connected to the news cycle, which was mainly negative news being fed to us. Continually being exposed to negative statistics greatly impacted the outlooks and moods of workers. To combat this, companies should share the good news as regularly as possible.
    Jo Gallagher, People Business Partner at Bruntwood Works says the company has made practical efforts to share more good news. “Every day, right across the business we’re seeing, hearing, and reading some great colleagues’ stories on our staff conversation platform, Universe. We’ve welcomed a few new Bruntwood Works babies, we’ve embraced new learning opportunities and we’ve seen how our customers are supporting the fight against COVID-19.”
    When reading through the press it may not be easy to come across positive news, as a business you can share stories of staff achievements and acts of kindness. Doing so will help lift moods and it may also help to prevent their mental health from deteriorating.
    4 – Keep your (virtual) door open
    When we were in an office environment, employees often mixed with different teams and senior team members, whether that was whilst making a coffee or having lunch.
    Since we are working remotely that just isn’t possible anymore. Setting up measures that bridge the gap between the teams and senior members is important to make sure those relationships are still present.
    “Communicate the organizational plan,” advises Kirsty: “be open and honest with all employees. Explain what the organization is doing to help protect its employees, their families and friends, and the organization itself.”
    Opening these channels of communication helps your team feel more closely connected with what the business is doing. It gives them a chance to have their say during a time when very little seems to be in their control.
    One of the best ways to do this is to have virtual ‘open door’ times for senior staff. During these sessions — perhaps a couple of hours on a Friday afternoon — company directors should keep their calendars free and be prepared to chat with any staff members who want to talk. It could be about the business’s performance, staff concerns, or even new ideas for how the team can move forward.
    5 – Don’t give up on social events
    Social events were simple before the lockdown. Teams would go out for a few drinks or maybe a fun activity and everyone would have a chance to get to know each other a little better.
    As we can not attend any social events, it becomes easy for companies to stop hosting and creating staff socials. Leaders need to look for new options available to them.
    Schedule regular social events with your team. Anything that lets you keep in touch without the conversation centering around work will help support your team’s mental health. Here are some virtual socializing ideas your business can try:

    Virtual coffee sessions
    Zoom evening drinks
    Friday afternoon quizzes
    A TV and film recommendations group
    30-day music challenges
    Virtual book clubs.

    One step at a time
    “People have personal triggers; some are better to carry on working while others simply need some downtime. There is also the social stigma that many feel around talking about their struggles.
    Kirsty from IOSH highlights that there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to maintaining your team’s mental health because everyone is different.
    This being the case, businesses need to be in tune with their staff on an individual level. The only way to do that? Take a genuine interest in each and every member of your team.
    “Some decisions can only be made by the individual, such as whether to go off sick or to continue working.”
    “Make sure you’re investing in those relationships, regardless of the new obstacles in the way. That needs to be the number one priority of any company right now,” says Jo Gallagher from Bruntwood Works. “If you really care about how your staff is coping, finding the right support measures for them will quickly follow.”
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    Working from Home: One Year in Review

    When recruiting, if you’re not adapting to working trends along with the nation, someone else will. So how is the working world settling into its new routine after a year of lockdowns and restrictions?
    Whilst many think people prefer working from home, you’ll actually find there are mixed opinions. Some like ditching the commute and having flexibility, others miss face-to-face interaction and getting out of the house.
    Office design experts, Diamond Interiors, have reviewed a chaotic working year to see how the nation has adapted and predicts what’s next for the working world.
    What has working from home changed for good?
    Flexibility certainly sticks out as a big winner. Without a doubt, people are appreciating the ability to spend more time at home, especially those with children. Businessman and founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson has been pushing CEOs to adopt more flexible working models even before the pandemic:
    “I’m a big believer that with the technology we have today, balancing family and business should be easier, not harder. Both partners should be able to work, realize their potential and raise a family; and flexible working enables people … to do this.”
    Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, sees “the future as being more flexible” and realizes the importance of cutting down commuting for his staff:
    “It’s always made me wonder when I see people commuting two hours and away from their family and friends on a Friday, you realize they can’t have plans… So I think we could do better.”
    Not only does working from home cut out commute times, but it can also cut down costs considerably. With travel costs, petrol, transport and then the daily or weekly lunchtime dining – it all adds up. At home, you’re not tempted by office lunch takeaways, local eateries, or having to spend money on actually getting to and from work.
    However, money transfers to increased electricity, heating, and internet usage. But, how does it compare?
    If you look at a worker who typically drives into a city every workday – such as Bolton to Manchester – that’s around 26 miles of driving every day (13 miles there and back). You’re looking at around £50 in unleaded fuel being saved a month by working from home. For a train commuter traveling from Bolton to Manchester, who uses a monthly season ticket, that’s around £105 saved or £120 without using a monthly season ticket.
    But, you’re probably spending that back on electricity and gas over the month by staying in more. As of April 2019, the average dual fuel variable tariff was estimated at £104.50 a month. This is before the pandemic and government-mandated lockdowns. Now that more people are working from home, with more hours using electricity for work on computers, homebrews, daily microwave pings, lights and so on, that figure is probably rising by at least 50%, if not doubling – especially during those winter months and cold spells.
    How has homeworking affected productivity?
    Gabriele Musella, CEO, and Cofounder of Coinrule, notes a positive, saying working from home “has increased my productivity level. I can stretch out and schedule my work conveniently and work in a more relaxed environment.”
    Others, however, have noticed the strain on productivity homeworking brings, like Nick Pollitt, Managing Director of Diamond Interiors: “We’ve seen employers struggle and noticed an impact. The office environment brings teams together and is where productivity thrives. That spark fades out when staff are distanced from each other; sadly business can suffer.”
    Pichai (Google’s CEO), echoes this by valuing the office for face-to-face interaction and “being together… when you have to solve hard problems and create something new.” He wants to “create more flexibility and more hybrid models” since the company’s internal survey interestingly found quite a split in the favoring of working remotely and in the office.
    Are we entering a new hybrid-working age?
    Salesforce – a cloud-based SaaS company – supports a hybrid work model, claiming “the 9-to-5 workday is dead.” But, they also understand the difficulties of working from home, “especially for those with families at home or for those who are feeling isolated.”
    Big-tech companies are also following suit with Twitter announcing early on that staff can work from home “forever.” However, employees can work in the office when it’s safe to do so.
    With isolation impacting mental health, increased office FOMO, and balancing out costs, it seems the work-from-home shift will be a sliding one, rather than a complete switch. People are enjoying more flexibility at home, but want the best of both worlds. Only time will tell what the future of the working world will look like.
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    How Employee Benefits Will Change Post-Flexible Working

    Before the pandemic, flexible working was seen as the ultimate benefit. Whether it was the option to work remotely or to take advantage of a company’s flexi-hours policy, it was lauded as a fantastic perk for any role. Flexibility was offered to many, but not all workers (46% of UK workers weren’t offered any flexible working options in 2018), making it all the more desirable to those who were living without it. However, due to the dramatic shift we’ve seen in the past 12 months, this type of flexibility seems is undoubtedly here to stay. If it’s the norm, not the exception, what benefits should employers look at offering instead?
    We recently hosted a webinar with four HR experts: Founder and Managing Principal at IA, Mark Stelzner; Group HR Director at Reward Gateway, Robert Hicks; Founder of Play Consulting, Marcus Thornley; and Saskia Donald, an HR professional with over 20 years’ experience. They discussed the need for employers to shift their employee benefits to better reflect individuals’ priorities. Find the key benefits below.
    Wellbeing
    Wellbeing will remain a huge player in the benefits game moving forward and, as Robert explained, “firms [who] do wellbeing well will see talent stay, and those who don’t will struggle”. Due to the challenges brought on by the pandemic, employees are now more in tune with their personal wellbeing and will look to their employer to help them cope. It’s important your clients view wellbeing holistically, taking into account mental, physical, financial, and social wellbeing.
    In terms of mental wellbeing, companies looking to improve their offering can implement many different solutions, including training a mental health first aider, creating online resources, organizing structured training sessions, or even simply offering a subscription to a meditation app.
    However, it’s not enough to simply have these resources available – clients should also lead by example when it comes to looking after their employees’ mental health. Mark described a recent moment where he recognized his employees needed him to lead the way during a period of acute stress: “I immediately put a message out to my entire team [to]… cancel every meeting if you need to and take care of yourself and your family.” Your clients should understand their employees will need support in different ways at different times; by allowing them space to pause and reset, they will prove they care about their workers’ mental wellbeing.
    It’s essential to remember the other forms of wellbeing as well. For example, if your client is looking to promote physical wellbeing, they could implement a cycle-to-work scheme or hire a trainer to deliver virtual yoga/Pilates/meditation sessions. Similarly, by taking into account financial stressors and doing their part to alleviate them, employers could potentially offer a one-off stipend to help workers set up their home workspace, courses, and education around budgeting/pension funds, or access to a financial advisor.
    There are a myriad of different options for those looking to introduce these benefits – the important thing to get right is recognizing the need to do so. Simply put, according to Robert, workers will ask their employers, “what are you doing to help me with my job, be effective and help me cope with all of my challenges?”
    Learning and development (L&D)
    Throughout the past 12 months, many of us have turned to online courses to develop skills or learn something new. According to Marcus, he’s seen “a lot of uptake in our business around learning… [it’s] never been [in] higher demand as it has been through lockdown”. There are a number of ways employers can encourage their staff to learn. Some of the better examples include allocating an annual amount for a person’s L+D and allow them to use it as they see fit; making online training documents available via a remote HR platform; or identifying those in the business with strong skills in a particular area and asking them to lead a presentation or seminar. At Tiger, the latter has worked particularly well: consultants have presented to the wider business on a variety of topics, from Brexit regulations to the importance of personal brand.
    Remote benefits
    While it’s not surprising we’re seeing more benefits to help employees set up their home workspaces, this trend is here to stay. Many employers are now offering a stipend for workers to spend on better working equipment, but Marcus believes this benefit may evolve in the future to include “home utility grants – electricity, Wi-Fi, gas.” Not only will it appeal to those struggling financially due to the pandemic, but it will ensure workers feel truly looked after by their employer.
    Two months into 2021, the global pandemic continues to affect every aspect of our lives and work. As recruiters, our knowledge of this uncertain market has never been more essential. By remaining abreast of benefits changes, you’ll be in a better position to advise your clients and help them attract the best candidates moving forward.

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    The Hierarchy of Needs for Home-Working in 2021

    It’s been a good few years – 78 years to be exact – since Abraham Maslow published his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” and introduced us to the ‘Hierarchy of Needs’.
    Chances are you’re already familiar with it, but it features five stages and is typically stylized like a pyramid. Moving from the bottom to the top, the stages theorized a human being’s motivation; psychological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. The theory was that the lower needs have to be satisfied before you can move up to attend to the needs of the next stage, and so on until you reach the final stage.
    But as we stated before, it’s been a while. So much about life, especially working life, has changed in the last 12 months. Is it time to introduce a new hierarchy of needs that is more suited to not only the 21st century, but our current working situation, and the state of modern recruitment?
    Before we dive in, let’s quickly recap the five stages of human needs (according to Maslow):
    Physiological: This first stage is about our most basic needs like food, water, and sleep
    Safety: Are we safe? Are we healthy? This covers everything from shelter to financial stability
    Love / belonging: Once we’re safe and fed, how do we feel like we belong in our own lives? This could be through relationships, friendships, and romantic intimacy
    Esteem: Then we start to work on ourselves. This self-growth and building on our esteem happens through status, respect, and recognition
    Self-actualization: This final stage relates to self-fulfillment which – according to Maslow – says is unique to every person
    Introducing: The new hierarchy of needs for working from home in 2021
    2020 saw a complete overhaul of how we do our jobs, and how businesses interact with their employees. Last year saw us replace face-to-face meetings with Zoom and desks with dining room tables. The working world has changed, and our needs have alongside it, with how we go about our jobs, the way we communicate, flexibility, and ways to improve productivity. One thing that hasn’t changed though is our desire to succeed in our careers.

    Now in 2021, mid-pandemic, many businesses are now in full work-from-home mode while continuing to go about their day, conducting meetings, recruiting new staff, and pitching for new customers. With all that in mind, business security solutions provider, Expert Security UK, thinks it’s time for a new hierarchy of needs:
    Working equipment: To do a job properly in the digital age, your equipment needs to be top-notch. That means no internet outages, no computer crashes, or faulty equipment. These are the basics.
    Security: We all need, and all deserve, to feel safe regardless of where we do business. This means that our premises – wherever that may be – needs to be protected efficiently with things like electric gates, driveway security bollards, and CCTV, etc.
    Safety and hygiene: If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we should never be complacent when it comes to hygiene, especially in an enclosed workspace. As we (hopefully) move forwards out of this pandemic, businesses will need to have updated health and safety policies that reflect hygiene and social distancing best practices. If home is your work – whether it’s temporary or permanent – keep your hygiene standards high.
    Team culture: Don’t forget about your people. Office banter and inside jokes are easy to keep alive when you’re all in one place, but with most people working from home, it’s more important now to keep that office culture alive and well. Use the internet and digital means to your advantage.
    Career success: Just because we’re working from home doesn’t mean our ambitions have been put on hold. We all have a need to feel valued, and that includes in our careers. Make sure your employees’ progressions are still on track, so they have something to work for.
    By Sam Levene at Expert Security UK.

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    3 Reasons Why We’ll Continue Remote Interviewing Post Pandemic 

    Interviewing has gone remote. While some think this is temporary, it’s actually the future.
    When the pandemic began, businesses were focused on putting their heads down and weathering an uncertain economic environment. For many, this meant a temporary freeze on hiring. As things thawed, hiring came back; but this time, it was remote.
    A Gartner poll found that “86% of organizations were incorporating new virtual technology to interview candidates” by the second month of the COVID-19 pandemic. This mad scramble to integrate new interviewing tools was, for some, disorienting; but in tech hiring, it’s been a godsend. While we still appreciate face-to-face interaction, the digital nature of remote interviews comes with so many benefits that we won’t be whiteboarding coding challenges with candidates ever again. Here are three reasons why:
    1. Less Work; More Data
    I work in tech and love data. Tech companies evangelize harvesting data wherever possible, but before the pandemic, interviews were a data dark spot. Most of the information conveyed lived either in the mind of the interviewer or via their notes. Even if there were coding assessments that added a quantitative element to the interview, these were often done on whiteboards or pieces of paper that then needed to be digitally transferred. The result was that interviewers often spent an extra 30 minutes simply capturing what had already transpired.
    Today, the entire process is digital, which means that so much more data is automatically captured, and it’s now being put to use. We have transcription tools and video recordings that make reviewing the interview that much easier. According to HackerEarth’s State of Developer Recruiting 2020, 56.9% of recruiters said a major benefit of remote interviewing came from pair programming with a collaborative code editor, as this automatically captures and assesses a candidate’s coding skill in a collaborative, work-like environment. We even have automatic feedback generators that request performance input after specific questions. These are then compiled into an after-action report that simply needs to be edited rather than written from scratch.
    This means that interviewers spend less time writing and more time carefully weighing a candidate’s skill. Starting digitally puts all the data at our fingertips and allows us to make the most informed decision. Instead of a data dark spot, remote interviews are now richer than a resume.
    2. Geographic Flexibility
    There’s no question that tech has a talent shortage. Only 60% of all tech positions are filled. When we were dependent on in-person interviews, we constrained our talent pipeline even further. With tech roles only becoming more important over time, we can’t think locally about tech hiring anymore.
    The pandemic opened up new talent reserves in geographically diverse locations. We can now hire anyone from anywhere. According to HackerEarth’s State of Developer Recruiting 2020, 50.6% of recruiters say that remote interviews are beneficial due to their logistical flexibility. A further 40.4% said they saved significant time. Remote interviews with built-in features like pair-programming and real-time code editing, which now constitute 11.1% of all remote coding interviews conducted, have basically solved the problem of onboarding the most qualified candidates regardless of location.
    There is now a bigger pool of tech talent that can work from anywhere, and assessing them remotely has never been easier. In fact, 30.7% of recruiters said that remote hiring had actually increased their talent funnel. As the global workforce becomes even more accustomed to remote work, this means that remote interviews will be a feature of the hiring process for years to come.
    3. Reduced Bias
    57.6% of enterprises have placed extra emphasis on hiring for diversity in 2020. But as much as we love meeting candidates face-to-face, first impressions are often clouded by personal biases that can unintentionally limit diversity. Recruiters and hiring managers tend to prefer candidates that mirror their own backgrounds in what has been termed by researchers “Looking Glass Merit.” While interpersonal and other soft skills are absolutely important, face-to-face interviews sometimes overvalue them relative to hard skills.
    Thankfully, remote interviews add a layer of separation that gives interviewers input on things like body language without placing undue influence on them. While 10.2% of recruiters at SMEs say that challenging unconscious bias is still a major pain point, and 13% of recruiters are specifically choosing assessment tools that help eliminate bias in the interviewing process.
    One way to combat this problem is to mask personally identifiable information (PII) during remote interviews so a candidate’s skills can speak for themselves. This means things like their name, gender, academic background, etc. are hidden during the interview itself, so the interviewer’s impression of a candidate is solely based on their skills.
    A Remote Interviewing Future
    Even after a vaccine is widely available and things start to return to ‘normal’, we won’t be looking back at how we used to hire. We may still meet candidates for in-person interviews from time to time, but will certainly continue to use digital interviewing tools for a better interviewing experience. Pair programming is just better on a computer, and we shouldn’t want to go back to the days of whiteboards and hand-written notes.
    Today, tech hiring is more competitive and geographically untethered than ever, so we need to make the interviewing process as convenient and flexible for candidates as possible. In the end, remote interviewing saves the company and the candidate time, and more importantly, allows interviewers to limit bias significantly relative to in-person interviews. These more objective interviews are helping managers create the best tech teams where only skills matter.
    By Sachin Gupta, CEO of HackerEarth.

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    A Guide to Remote Employer Branding

    For years, we’ve framed the virtual workplace as “the future of work”—a distant vision, and one many employer brand managers overlooked, despite the fact that more than half of workers worldwide were spending at least half their workweek telecommuting. However, as HubSpot’s Senior Manager of Employer Brand Hannah Fleishman reminds us, “The future is here.”
    COVID-19 has forced companies with little experience supporting a remote workforce to embrace working from home. Some were better equipped to make this transition in stride. Before COVID-19 closed offices around the world, HubSpot was already positioning itself as a leader in remote employee experience. Of its 3,500 employees around the world, 400 were full-time remote, making HubSpot’s remote workforce its third-largest “office.” That success wasn’t an accident—a major component of its success was its commitment to remote employer brand.

    Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or Soundcloud.
    If employer brand describes how your values and culture differentiate you competitively, then remote employer brand describes your remote workforce’s place in that culture, as well as the competitive advantage you offer to remote candidates. As Fleishman puts it, “How you market and position your company, not only as a great place to work but a great place to work remotely, is really important as that becomes more competitive.”
    Before 2020, the remote employee experience was an afterthought at many companies. For years, HubSpot was no exception. Framing remote work as “the future of work” allowed companies to deprioritize it in favor of more immediate goals and concerns.
    However, supporting remote employees is becoming increasingly urgent as more and more job seekers opt to work from home for health and safety reasons. “Because of this pandemic, we can expect that candidates are going to expect more remote work opportunities.”
    Employers shouldn’t expect the importance of remote employer brand to subside as the pandemic subsides, either. According to Fleishman, an internal survey revealed that 61% of HubSpot employees are planning to work remotely more even after in-person office life resumes.
    To follow Hannah Fleishman’s work on remote employer brand, follow her on LinkedIn. You may also want to check out her previous interview Inbound Recruiting: HubSpot’s Approach to Employer Branding. For help creating data-driven, actionable strategies you can use to make real change in your company, talk to us.

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    5 Ways Recruiting Leaders Can Help their Teams Beat WFH Fatigue

    For the majority of the UK workforce, December now marks almost eight months of continuously working from home, for thousands of us this has been a shock to the system and a real shift from the norm.
    The balance between a healthy home and work life, for some, may have been blurred and now Google trends data suggests searches for ‘burnout’ peaking as the UK entered a second national lockdown earlier in November and with no respite to the working from home guidance as of yet, this trend is likely to increase.
    So with more people now experiencing a form of ‘work from home fatigue’, Sam Hill, Head of People and Culture at BizSpace shares tips on how business leaders can help to combat this unique form of burnout.
    1. COMMUNICATION IS KEY TO MAINTAINING A CULTURE
    Communication is a vital part of this strategy – with every element of running a business or managing a team, communication is the key to success in morale and for recruiters, a pivotal part in the day-to-day job. Many office workers across the country may be living alone, in shared accommodation, or having to juggle the added pressures of being at home more often, like childcare for example.
    All of this can lead to feeling a sense of isolation from the team and the company, something that can come as a shock to the system. Especially when concerned with the recruitment industry, where camaraderie and an office environment where feeling a sense of striving for targets is instilled and allows employees to excel. While many won’t have a choice but to be working from home, team leaders could encourage the use of instant messaging like Slack and Google Chat. While daily huddles and weekly catch-ups with a line manager/mentor using a mixture of video and voice calls help to keep updated and on top of targets, with managers offering a steer and guidance. Keeping this constant open door to communication can replicate that feeling of being in the office where teams can so easily communicate and celebrate wins.
    2. TRUST YOUR TEAM AND PROVE IT THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS
    Recruiters can work sporadic hours day-to-day but with working hours now no longer ‘normal’, this can lead to many feeling like they need to prove they’re doing the work, leading to overworking and in turn, burnout. Thousands of us are defined by the 9-5, taking lunch at the same time each day and having a physical presence in front of colleagues to prove we are actually working. At home, we don’t have this way of ‘proving’ ourselves.
    So team leads must show that they trust their team, they can do this by being flexible and less formal, where meetings are required, keeping these streamlined and avoiding typical lunch hours or times early in the morning where some may be taking advantage of the new hours. Setting attainable and broad deadlines with a lot of notice will allow flexibility and give enough time to be met.
    3. DEFINING THE PURPOSE FOR EVERY TEAM MEMBER
    Despite many recruiters and talent acquisition specialists having a clearly defined goal and working towards a commission-based salary, the peculiar times we’re living in can still see many questioning their purpose. It is vital that every member of the team is aware of what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, aside from simply logging the hours and getting through the day. Senior management, team leaders, and line managers must be communicating this from the top down through the likes of company-wide communication, keeping teams updated on business progress, any wins, challenges, and opportunities.
    This communication then needs to filter down through the hierarchy with each level of the team being aware of how their work contributes to the overall goal of the company. No role in a team is obsolete and everyone contributes to the success of the overall goal and defining this purpose, more now than ever before, is vital to give your team a sense of purpose and being.
    4. BE CLEAR ON THE PRIORITIES
    When delegating work, be absolutely clear of the deadlines and what the top priorities are. For the more inexperienced members of the team, being in the office has a monumental impact on their progression and will allow them to pick up skills and lean on peers for guidance. As a team leader or manager, making workload priorities explicit from the offset and checking in once a week on progress can help to guide the workload without micromanaging and guide those that may need more of a steer.
    5. ENCOURAGE MOVEMENT AND GET EVERYONE INVOLVED
    Taking a break from the dining room table or home office is key to keeping a clear and focussed mind throughout the day. Workers are likely to be spending more time at their screens with no need to leave the house, whereas heading out to get lunch is the norm when in an office setting. With longer nights, we must get the most out of the short amount of daylight we have. But how do you ensure your team is not neglecting their own need for fresh air and daylight?
    Using instant messaging, a social chat can be an escape for many employees to talk about everything that isn’t work. Encouraging a weekly thread where the team can share photos of their week and something they have done might be a nice way to encourage people to do more other than stay in the house. Apps like Strava that track exercise can also be a great team-building activity that encourages movement. Creating a leaderboard for the number of miles each person logs in exercise outside should encourage competition amongst the team. It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise either, so whether they’re walking or in a wheelchair, riding or running, it encourages the team to get outside and spend time away from the screen.
    Sam Hill has been with BizSpace since 2017 and is the Head of People and Culture. She has over 10 years’ experience in HR roles and previously worked at The Football Association, Produban (a part of Santander), and Ascential PLC. Sam is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

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    Adapt or Fail: Why Employers Need to Redesign their Workplace Culture

    The Coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the way people live and work — forcing British businesses to pivot to new, digital, and remote ways of working. But, while many of these continue to manage, how many will truly thrive in the months – and perhaps years – to come?
    Today, as many companies pass the eight-month mark of remote working, and with no clear end in sight, working from home is no longer the exception, it’s the rule. But despite the advantages remote working has to offer, our latest research revealed that ‘hidden fractures’ are emerging among workforces, which risk causing irreparable damage to cultures and productivity.
    To ensure their businesses remain resilient – and prevent them from being permanently held back – it’s clear that employers need to take a proactive approach to manage and, in some cases repair, their workplace culture. The time to take action and rethink the employee experience is now; and here are four things employers should focus on:
    Design for remote
    First and foremost, business leaders need to design for remote. Indeed, when it comes to creating a positive company culture – that’s vital for a stable workforce – the same old tactics that were used pre-pandemic won’t work. Employers need to redesign the employee experience to ensure that people feel supported and connected with other team members as well as part of the same experience, wherever they are.
    For instance, just because your workforce isn’t together in the office, it doesn’t mean you can’t create meaningful experiences at key moments in employee life-cycles – at a distance. That could involve providing a new hire with a starter pack and a virtual buddy during onboarding, sending a bottle of fizz to newly promoted staff, or bringing the team together virtually to give a heartfelt farewell to a colleague who’s leaving. If effectively supported, these key moments can positively shape sentiment towards employers, roles, and colleagues.
    Continuously build familiarity
    When people are working in the office, familiarity — that is, feeling part of a team and being able to talk to colleagues and be heard — helps breed successful teamwork and a trust-based culture. But with everyone working from home, it’s easy for relationships to become momentary and transactional — a short video call here or an instant-message there, followed by weeks of nothing. And yet, familiarity is a critical outcome of employee experience, so businesses need to find new ways to weave it into every touchpoint.
    In our research we found that things like recognition for work well-done (33%) and being able to access support and guidance when needed (31%) aren’t just ‘nice to haves’ — they are the most important elements for creating a next-level workplace culture. When these are absent, the workplace culture is viewed as negative – and trust levels nosedive.
    But it doesn’t have to be this way – employers can continue to build and nurture relationships and instill a sense of familiarity by other means. Digital culture platforms, for example, could offer the solution many are looking for. These allow employers to create a space – outside of work channels – dedicated to building culture and familiarity, that all employees can participate in, as and when they please. If they’re to re-create familiarity in their remote workforce, businesses need to think differently and innovatively about how they can keep workplace connections alive and drive meaningful conversations and interaction.
    Strengthen employee networks
    As much as relationship-building is important, it’s also vital to nurture and support the development of peer networks that employees are reliant on for support, guidance, and reassurance. In fact, the cracks in networks are already starting to show, with 51% of employees saying they feel it’s harder to reach out for help from teammates when working from home. This should be a key concern for employers because when employees feel unable to lean on their peers for support and guidance, they can become increasingly anxious and more reliant on their Line Managers as a result. This, in turn, can create pressure points within the organization, causing productivity to plummet.
    Pre-pandemic, peer networks that extended outside of work teams were commonplace – something that has been altered by home-working. At a time when many people feel less visible and connected, it’s clear that businesses need to re-examine their remote working models and create the right channels to ensure employees feel seen, heard, supported, and trusted – and to help them to connect and thrive.
    One way to do this is by celebrating and acknowledging employee wins and achievements in a way that is long-lasting and is seen and heard by everyone across the business. Whether it’s highlighting their achievements over a company-wide video call or updating the team on a digital newsfeed that can be read by the whole organization, employees will feel recognized and appreciated. It’s by adopting these types of creative culture initiatives that employers can help remote workers to feel more ingrained in their business and encourage a more positive and connected workplace culture, no matter where employees are working.
    Measure and track culture
    Finally, in order for employers to effectively keep their finger on the pulse of workplace culture, it’s critical that they measure employee experience and culture. But traditional employee surveys aren’t necessarily the best option, as they’re often slow to implement and can cause survey fatigue when overused. Instead, managers and business leaders should look for ways to harness real-time and consistent culture analytics. By implementing pulse surveys more intelligently (and less frequently) they can benchmark measurements and use findings to help build and maintain an effective and happy remote workforce.
    For many organizations, returning full-time to an office is unlikely to happen any time soon and we believe that in the longer-term many companies will embrace hybrid working practices, as employees look to get the best of both worlds during their working week. But whether businesses are planning for it or not, it’s important to realize that remote working is here to stay, and not just in the short term. In order to protect their workplace culture and their company, employers need to redesign their thinking and adapt their employee experience to this new reality. Those that fail to evolve risk being held back and those that embrace the change will stay one step ahead, now and in the future.
    By Marcus Thornley, CEO of Totem.

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