Organizations all over the world are figuring out how to adjust to the "new normal" and maintaining workplace culture has become an exercise in creativity and innovation. At Oracle Data Cloud, while we are currently operating under a mandatory work from home mandate, the Employee Experience team has been hard at work, shifting priorities to place our complete focus on facilitating a virtually healthy, engaged, and supported workforce while we all navigate this unprecedented time.
Since all of our planned in-office activities have been affected, it has required us to rethink how we can bring the same energy and engagement to our teams but now from a distance. With that in mind, I thought I’d share 5 ways our team has found success in promoting an engaged remote employee experience.
It is hard to find a replacement for seeing your coworkers each day in the office, but virtual weekly meetings are an excellent tactic to implement during this time. Teams should be encouraged to consistently connect by phone or video every week at least once. This creates a sense of unity while not being together daily.
Employees also enjoy hearing from leadership and learning of their direction during this time. At Oracle Data Cloud, we have bi-monthly Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions with our EVP, Rob Tarkoff, where teams can ask Rob any question—whether it’s related to the business or a personal opinion about current events. This initiative has been great and very much appreciated by the broader organization.
For employees who have extra time on their hands due to not commuting or extracurricular activities being put on hold, this is the perfect chance to motivate them to learn or build on a skill. Live classes are not available at the moment, but many programs are offering online learning opportunities.
Oracle University is one resource we offer our employees. Employees can gain free certifications that relate to their job functions or areas they want to explore. Another useful resource to look into is LinkedIn Learning. LinkedIn Learning offers video courses that are taught by industry experts in software, creative, and business skills. This platform allows you to move at your own pace and save your progress as you go.
During this time of uncertainty, everyone appreciates a break from reality to unwind and have fun with their coworkers. Getting creative and thinking of ways to create virtual fun for your teams is a great distraction.
Some of the ideas for virtual fun are:
Trivia games - Here is a template we used with instructions, a template, and answers.
Yoga - Teams can enjoy a relaxing yoga session together over video. The ability to see everyone creates a sense of unity and yoga is great to calm an overanxious mind.
Show and tell - People enjoy sharing things about their personal lives with coworkers. Teams have been sharing pictures of their virtual workspaces with others.
Conference call backgrounds - Challenge your team to find the best background for your video calls. Zoom allows users to upload any image to use for a virtual backdrop. We’ve seen some pretty hilarious ones!
Throughout the day, our employees communicate through the messaging platform, Slack. Creating audience-specific messaging channels is helpful for those who want to share their experience with a "like-group" and find tips from someone who may be encountering similar challenges.
A popular Slack channel we currently have is our "Work from Home Parents" group. Parents with kids of all ages have come together and are sharing hilarious and frustrating stories of their journey as full-time parents and in some cases, part-time teachers!
It’s important to keep the excitement about traditional programs alive. Identify the programs that you typically do in person and find ways to take them online. We usually have a Spring Hackathon event where teams from all over come together to work on different types of projects based on their interest. These projects can relate to their actual job function or be completely random. To keep our Hackathon excitement present, we are choosing to do it virtually. Teams will have one week to meet up with their teams on video chat and flush out a completed project that will get voted on at the end of the event.
We were also excited about celebrating "Bring Your Child to Work Day". Seeing the kids in the office always brings joy and happiness to our teams. To keep spirits high for the kids and parents, we are keeping the celebration and implementing it virtually.
Here are some ideas our team came up with:
Cook-along live - Before the cooking course, send out ingredients that are needed and receive a virtual cooking lesson.
Story-time - Kids can hear a story from one of our team members and see the other little ones that dialed into the meeting.
Fancy Dress-Up - Each kid will dress up like their parents and log online as a "grown-up."
Freeze Dance - Music will be controlled by one person, and kids will log in to show their best dance moves. When the music stops, they must also pause.
With everyone working remotely and changing their lifestyle, organizations should also be putting in the extra effort to adapt company culture and initiatives to the current environment. Implementing some of these ideas will ensure your employees feel supported while experiencing new challenges. Engaging employees will ensure they are focused, productive, and connected in their new work environment.