The way businesses operate has changed significantly since the first national lockdown in March 2020. But arguably one of the biggest changes has been the way businesses use technology. Data from McKinsey shows that businesses accelerated their digitisation by three to four years in the first four months of the pandemic.
This adoption of new technology has not come without its teething problems, however, and this is especially true for businesses with large office contingents. These workers promptly switched to remote working in March 2020 and had to adapt to these technologies while working from home. Google data shows that searches for terms on how to use tools like Zoom rose exponentially during the first few months of the pandemic, with “how to use Zoom” increasing by 7,016.74%.
Now that workers have had time to familiarise themselves with the tools, they’ve been embedded into workplaces. Employers and employees will still be taking advantage of tools including Teams and Zoom until the work from home directive is lifted, and may potentially keep them in the long term. Many businesses are looking to shift to a formal hybrid working model, so employers need to know how they can bring their home-workers and their office-based staff together using these tools.
Check out some of our top tips on keeping your employees connected using the technology you’ve embedded into your workplace during the pandemic.
Hold regular business catch-ups
Many businesses adopted collaboration technologies for the first time in the March 2020 lockdown – Zoom data shows that its daily meeting participants increased from 10 million to 300 million between December 2020 and April 2021. While searches on how to use them have died down since hitting a peak of 335,910 monthly searches in the March 2020 lockdown, queries remain 3,482% higher than 2019, which shows we’re still using – and maybe even getting to grips with – these tools.
As we begin to emerge from lockdown, you can still use these tools to your advantage. Because, if there’s one thing the pandemic has proven, it’s that we don’t need to be in the same room to be together at work. Despite that, almost half of people who worked from home during the pandemic felt isolated and lonely. So, with less restrictive work from home instructions still in place, how can you ensure those people feel included in the workplace?
Hosting regular workplace catch-ups and dialling your home-based colleagues in on Teams and Zoom is a great way you can do this. What’s more, if you have a large space in the office and TV or digital screens on the walls, you can cast Zoom and Teams to these screens so it really feels like you’re all together.
Host remote after-work activities
While many hospitality venues have opened, capacity and group sizes are limited. You may also have employees who are uncomfortable socially mixing at this stage in the pandemic. So, with the Euros hitting our screens this month, why not host work watch parties that your office and home-based employees can take part in together?
“Watch parties” are becoming more commonplace, with a number of streaming services recently launching a Teleparty function. This allows people to watch their favourite show together and includes a group chat so they can discuss it in real time.
It’s easy to recreate this for your colleagues. You can utilise your office screens and TV distribution technology to stream the matches – or any show, for that matter – in your office and create a Teams group for your people to discuss the events as they unfold.
Set up social groups
The great thing about tools like Teams and Zoom is that they can be used for both business and social purposes. If you’re already using Teams to allow your employees to collaborate remotely, why not set up some social channels to allow them to connect throughout the day too?
Whether you set up a company-wide chat for your employees to get to know each other, wherever they’re based, or you encourage your people to set up chats within their own teams, letting them know that they’re able to connect and engage with others is a sure-fire way to make them feel involved.
The coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns have forced many of us to work with technology in a way that we hadn’t previously. It also introduced home working to many employees for the first time, which made the adoption of this technology more challenging. Many businesses are currently operating with a hybrid office and home-based workforce, and this trend is set to stay in the long term. That means keeping your employees engaged could become more difficult – but our tips will make this much easier!