After nearly six months of working from home, 2020 has been a year and experience like no other. At AvePoint, we were fortunate to be able to switch to working remotely quickly at the onset of the pandemic. Although we could do this with ease from a technology standpoint thanks to Microsoft Teams, our brains and emotions are still playing catch up to some extent.
As an HR professional, one of my core functions is to keep employees engaged (which can be challenging on the best day, never mind now!). While we still experience the ups and downs of the COVID rollercoaster, here’s what our Australian team has found helpful in making the best of these unusual times.
- Stay Connected, but Don’t Over Do It
Back in March, we were anxious a work from home setup would leave employees feeling isolated. Initially, we may have over-corrected by implementing daily stand-ups, mandating video for calls, and checking in a bit too much. Today, we’ve scaled back because Teams fatigue is real. There’s no handbook on how to stay connected during COVID, so it’s important to not only continuously collect feedback, but also to listen to it and make adjustments.
2. Focus on the Good, or Doing Good
It might be hard to focus on or even find the good in news headlines some days, but one thing we can control is doing good and giving back to our communities. In June, our team put their creative hats on and partnered with The Neighbourhood Centre to make and distribute “happy mail cards” to those in aged care facilities who were unable to have visitors.
Up next, we’re competing in Connor’s Run which has gone virtual this year. Our fundraising efforts will help raise money for pediatric brain cancer, and our training efforts will keep us fit!
3. Make Wellness a Priority
Speaking of fitness, we’ve launched our first-ever winter wellness competition. Employees will compete as runners or walkers and try to log as many kilometres as they can by 10th September, which is “R U OK Day.” “R U OK Day” is a national day of action where we’re reminded to reach out to our own network of people who may be struggling with life’s ups and downs. Separate from getting us moving, the focus of this competition is to emphasize the importance of mental health and well-being while supporting each other.
4. Learn Something New
When each day is similar to the last it’s easy to get that feeling of Groundhog’s Day, which can lead to boredom and dissatisfaction. In a remote environment, mental stimulation may not happen organically, so we all need to make a conscious effort to flex our brain muscles.
In the workplace, we encourage learning through our tuition reimbursement program, but more recently we’ve introduced “Lunch & Learns.” In these sessions, a colleague presents on a topic of interest while the rest of us learn from their insights and personal experiences with the subject.
And learning doesn’t stop at 5:00 PM! Outside of work, we’ve seen each other conquer sourdough baking, painting, and becoming a dog Dad, just to name a few new skills.
5. Embrace and Practice Gratitude
Although each day may seem the same on the surface, we all have stressors that weren’t part of our workday pre-COVID. Even with all the above practices it’s easy to succumb to negativity. Try to keep an open mind, remain flexible, and take one day at a time.
Instead of being hard on yourself, try to switch gears and practice gratitude. We use our Gong Eht (pronounced gong-it) channel in Teams to shout out thanks and appreciation, and sometimes that’s all we need to keep going!
6. Have a Laugh!
These are times like no other, so the least we can do is have a laugh! Seize any opportunity to step back and take things less seriously when you can. This might mean a silly look alike competition or the sharing of content that brings joy. We’ve had informal “Employee Spotlight” interviews where we learn new things about each other. Our Customer Success Manager, Anna Kot has spearheaded this initiative, asking a colleague each week random and quirky questions while also matching their attire.
The above might not be a perfect formula, but it has helped keep our social office together while staying safely apart. We hope it does the same for you. Stay safe and well out there!