March 27, 2020

How We Enabled Our Workforce to Go Remote (And How You Can Too)

Jennie Knowles
Jennie Knowles

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This piece is brought to you by Sendoso Head of HR Jennie Knowles.

By now, you’ve probably seen dozens of articles on the subject of working from home. A simple search will uncover advice on everything from how to set up your at-work home station and remain productive outside the office, to how to keep children occupied during work hours.

These articles, while useful for individual employees, offer little advice for HR teams on how to enable an entire organization to work from home—especially in such an uncertain time.

If you’re a fellow HR leader, people manager, or people operations professional, you’ve probably asked yourself the following questions:

  • How do I ensure the safety and security of our employees during this time?
  • How do I promote high employee morale despite constant anxiety-causing news headlines?
  • How do I keep our corporate family connected despite mandates for virtual work?
  • How do I enable all of our team members to stay productive and motivated?

I don’t have all the answers. But what I do have are some tactics my team used to handle our unexpected work-from-home situation. I’m sharing these in the hopes you and your team may find our strategies helpful as we all continue to adapt to the new workplace normal.

How to Help Your Company “Keep Calm and Carry On” During Times of Uncertainty

1. Ensure your employees’ safety and security

Our employees are our most valuable asset. They are at the heart of everything Sendoso does, and their health and safety is our top priority.In response to global concerns about safety, our leadership team instituted a work-from-home policy across our San Francisco and Arizona office locations in March even before official “shelter in place” policies came from local and state governments.

2. Keep it business as usual even as you face a new normal

The first step to being successful while working from home is to find ways to keep your daily routine. We provided our employees with monitors, keyboards, and other desk supplies. To add extra comfort to their home office space, we sent our employees desktop succulents and a handwritten note that read, “This is a little something from your Sendoso family to help decorate your new at-home office. We want to help Sendoso even grow at home. Love Sendoso.”

This was not a one-time send either. Every week throughout our work-from-home period, our teams can expect to receive different physical and virtual care packages from Sendoso, including fun treats like donuts, eGifts, and more. (Want to know how to easily send your teams virtual care packages? Click here.)

3. Create regular company-wide communications

Our national situation is evolving rapidly. To ensure visibility into how our company, board, and leadership are addressing these changes, we instituted a weekly all-hands virtual meeting. This open communication allows for different team leads to share updates with the entire company on their team’s direction and eliminate silos. We also worked with our enablement team to double down on training and “lunch and learn” sessions so that everyone remains on the same page with our current go-to-market messaging.

Lastly, we re-introduced some of our favorite in-office traditions in our Slack channels. For example, our sales team loves to ring the bell when deals close, so we flooded popular channels with bell GIFs as close notices come across the wire. We also have a very dog-friendly office, so we encourage employees to share pictures and updates of their furry friends to brighten everyone’s day!

4. Embrace a “camera on” policy

In the office, you interact face-to-face with your team members every day. Working from home should be the same! While it’s tempting to skip regular hair and makeup routines, throw on a pair of sweatpants, and call it a day, ask  that unless there are connectivity issues or extenuating circumstances, cameras should be on during work hours. It will boost collaboration, and you’ll be surprised by how happy everyone is to actually see one another.

5. Promote health and well-being

Sudden changes at work, at home, and in the work can be stressful. To combat this, we supply resources that help our employees stay physically and mentally strong. Workers have access to HeadSpace meditations, we offer morning and noon video workouts through Dryft, and we’re continuously sharing articles on in-home health and nutrition.

6. Keep lunchtime routines

Normally, every Wednesday in the office we treat our staff to free lunch supplied by local businesses. Employees look forward to Wednesday lunch as a time to come together, break up their day, and catch up with colleagues. We decided their new mid-week lunch routine should be no different. Although our workers are confined to their homes for the time being, we now provide Uber eGift cards so they can order the lunch of their choice right from UberEats—a sure way to maintain a sense of normalcy in this chaotic climate. Or, if they prefer, they can donate their lunch eGift to charity.

7. Host virtual team events

People are starved for person-to-person interaction during social distancing, so we created a full menu of ways to stay connected on a regular basis. In addition to our twice-a-day workouts, we unveiled a weekly virtual pub trivia hour where employees can team up and test their knowledge. We also implemented Friday movie nights where we collectively stream classic movies, and of course, we instituted virtual themed happy hours.

We also encourage daily work-from-home challenges on Slack, where members can compete for fun prizes and vote on their favorite post. A recent challenge was to submit a picture of your morning coffee a.k.a. the “mugshot” challenge!

8. Encourage time to unwind

The lines between work and life are heavily blurred when employees are confined to their homes. Help them relax at the end of a long workday by sending them sweet treats, or encourage light-hearted activities (like this donut decorating kit) to lift their spirits. Everyone can use a reason to smile right now, and these little gestures will go a long way.

We also know our employees may not be the only people living in their homes, so we make sure they have access to parent, guardian, and pet owner resources as well. We even offer a weekly children’s story hour over Zoom, where one of our big-hearted employees reads picture books to the delight of little ones and their parents who get an extra hour of heads-down work.

It Starts With Great Leaders

Our amazing leadership team lent support in every way imaginable to get our work-from-home programs off the ground. We’re accustomed to keeping groups across vast distances and different time zones connected because of the Sending Platform we create, but enabling our entire workforce to go virtual in a matter of days was no easy feat. I can’t express how grateful we are to our leaders for making this transition so smooth. We were also able to leverage our own platform in new ways to implement these new initiatives.

In fact, our platform was so successful in enabling our workforce to go remote that we wanted to help other teams maintain human connections in our newly all-digital world. That’s why we’re offering HR teams 90 days of free access to Sendoso to build relationships, drive productivity, and keep teams in sync during this time. Learn more about our offer here.

Facing the Future: A Remote Workforce Could Be Here to Stay

Remote work has been a growing trend for some time now. A special analysis done by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics found that over the last 12 years, there has been a 159% increase in remote work, including 4.7 million permanent work from home employees. Inc. also sites a study that estimates 63% of all companies already have remote workers on staff.

Many are predicting that the current events will usher in a new influx of permanent work from home employees. As HR leaders, we need to prepare. Sending digital gifts, plants, beverages, and sweet treats are fun ways to connect with your team members and drive engagement during this time. So while we may have limited control over our current situation, we can still plan for the things to come.

Food for thought. Good luck and good health to all.

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