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Maintaining your workplace culture remotely over the festive period

By Thea Watson, Marketing Director of Hays UK & I and UK Board member

The end of calendar year is quickly approaching, which for many organisations is a time to come together, celebrate achievements and see the year out in style. With ongoing Covid restrictions making most in-person gatherings unfeasible, employers will have to be a bit more creative with their approach to celebrations.

The festive season provides an important opportunity for employers to recognise the huge obstacles teams have overcome in this challenging year. In order to round out 2020 on a high and consolidate your successes as a workforce, it is critical that the organisational culture you have worked so hard to build remains strong and your employees feel valued, recognised and ready to tackle whatever the new year brings.

So what are the key elements to nail if you want to keep your remote working culture strong over the festive season?

Maintain clear and frequent communication

From the beginning of the first lockdown in March, effective and open communication, via the right digital tools, has been a top priority for employers. It continues to be important, both for morale and productivity, that employees are armed with the resources needed to continue to perform effectively and new mediums for collaboration are encouraged.

With many teams having experienced little in-person interaction throughout the year, the importance of shared alignment to a common goal or purpose is crucial to employee engagement and motivation. Now, more than ever is the time for your internal communications channels to truly come into their own. Use them to make employees aware of end of year results, successes and new organisational developments which will help maintain morale and team unity.

In acknowledging that this would normally be a time of year for parties and celebratory drinks, team calls, which have been a working culture mainstay for many organisations this year, should retain their level of frequency but perhaps include more lighthearted activities. Festive quizzes or other games could be used to round off routine calls to help employees feel that they are not missing out on all the usual fun.

Celebrate virtually

With the traditional Christmas party almost certainly out of the question this year, a virtual event or experience could be a great alternative that allows your employees the chance to celebrate and connect with each other over something other than work.

There are a variety of possibilities for this, and what you decide on depends very much on what you think your team might most enjoy and how they prefer to connect. You could organise a virtual cocktail making class, a festive crafting session, a cheese and wine evening, or plan a scavenger hunt where staff are tasked with finding household items and the first person to return to the screen with the object wins. Alternatively keep it simple and have a Christmas team catch-up where you each share your favourite festive traditions.

Although these activities might not be how we’d imagined we’d be spending this time of year, it is important to take a creative approach and ensure your appreciation of the way teams have pulled together to overcome hurdles and hardships is felt. Moreover, as this is a time when many would ordinarily be getting together with friends and family but are not able to do so, virtual celebrations can help alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness, and make people feel connected and part of something.

Acknowledge individual indifferences

Though the festive season might be a welcome and fun distraction from the ongoing Covid restrictions, and many will be actively embracing it, it is important to remember that everyone is different. Some of your team members may be experiencing feelings of anxiety, as well as individual circumstances that may be impacting their holiday plans. Lockdowns, to varying degrees, have been implemented on and off continuously since March, and many might be feeling fatigued or isolated as a result.

Recognising and responding to team members on an individual basis is the best way to demonstrate to your employees that you understand their concerns and that their wellbeing is important to you. This, in turn, has a knock-on effect on morale and productivity. Employees are much more likely to feel engaged and motivated, especially on a remote basis, if they feel heard and appreciated.

Emphasise the importance of taking a break

The end of the year can sometimes be a stressful time, with project deadlines fast approaching, and targets to meet. Your teams may be feeling the pressure, but emphasising the importance of switching off and making the most of the festive period is essential.

The New Year will undoubtedly bring more challenges, especially with Covid restrictions likely to continue to some degree throughout the winter. For your teams to be able to meet these challenges with creativity, innovation, engagement and purpose, it is important that you encourage them to rest, recharge and enjoy the opportunity to appreciate the festive period. Doing so is much more likely to ensure that everyone starts 2021 feeling energised, motivated and inspired to start the New Year off on a high.

For further resources and insights on topics including how to support your team’s wellbeing, managing teams, and recruiting remotely, visit our Inspire Me in the New Era of Work hub.

About this author

Thea is responsible for the UK & I marketing team as well as driving the strategic direction of the marketing function, looking closely at opportunities for growth, positioning in the marketplace and sales support. She was appointed to the Hays UK & I Board in July 2017, following joining the UK business in the summer of 2016.

Prior to her current role she was the Vice President of Marketing for the Hays Americas business, joining the business in 2012. Under her management she built the marketing function from general support to a strategic driver of sales, establishing a central marketing unit supporting Canada, US and four Latin American countries.

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