If office morale is at a low ebb, it is important to take action rather than allow malevolent forces to fester. This isn’t easy during a pandemic, of course, when working with both in-person and remote teams conjures a cauldron of frightful scenarios. Here are some ideas to help you dispel the doom and gloom and perk up the people on your team. (Related: “Leading Remote Teams: Tips for Improving Effectiveness.”)
Me-Time: Allow for Quiet Spaces
Life in a busy law firm can be hectic and stressful, especially if there is no place for a break away from the noise and activity. So, in addition to more PPE and plexiglass to make people feel safe, consider creating designated quiet spaces where people can retreat without having to leave the building. You can go full-on with a Silicon Valley-style approach and set up specific napping zones, or simply establish a room where workers can go when they need five minutes of uninterrupted, isolated me-time.
Of course, for many remote workers, their office is also their napping zone. One way of supporting people when work and home meld together is to encourage them to stop working. Make sure your people aren’t afraid to walk away from their devices. Be clear about working hours and work expectations — people can’t function, much less thrive, if they are “always on.” (Related: “Working From Home: Ways to Protect Your Health and Sanity During the Crisis.”)
Spring for Lunch
Nothing could be simpler than buying lunch for team members once a week. It is also a hugely effective strategy for improving office morale. An added bonus is that it means people will eat at the same time, which creates opportunities for bonding outside of a purely work-oriented context. Group lunches are also helpful if new team members are struggling to gel with existing groups. During the pandemic, some firms are delivering lunch to remote workers, too. This way, no one feels excluded. Teams can meet and dine together via videoconference.
Another plus: You will be supporting local restaurants that now rely on income from pickup and delivery services.
You Remembered! Recognize Achievements and Important Events
People feel more valued when they are recognized and publicly acknowledged for their achievements and milestones. Even if you are on a budget, small creative perks can make a big difference. Consider a handwritten card, flowers or a special gift to mark a significant professional goal, birthdays and work anniversaries. Several firms are expanding their gift-giving programs to help keep staff motivated during the pandemic: gift cards, firm swag, healthy snacks and treats, and larger gift sets. A gift-giving program is definitely something you can delegate. To make it meaningful, though, try to keep giving personal. SnackNation, for example, has a number of different options suitable for people with different tastes and hobbies, which can be a nice gift for the office. Whether you go for gifts that pamper or a practical gift like a new bag or drink container, sending gifts will boost office morale and help banish feelings of isolation.
The Gift of Time: Stop Unnecessary Meetings
Hands down, the best gift of all is the gift of time. Almost two-thirds of meetings lack an agenda, which can lead to a lot of meandering, rambling and general time-wasting. What’s more, meetings get in the way of other duties, hampering productivity and stoking dissatisfaction and frustration. Whether in-person or via videoconference, if you are in charge, you have a responsibility to make sure that meetings are only held if they are strictly necessary, and that attendees understand why the meeting is taking place. You also need to make sure that whoever is running the meeting has a firm hand on the tiller, and that the process does not drag on for no good reason. (Related: “Are Video Meetings Killing Your Productivity?”)
Have a Tech Check
On the topic of virtual meetings, by now, you probably have the technology bugs worked out of your software connections and communications for remote workers. But how is their hardware holding up? The old laptops people made do with at the start of the pandemic may need an upgrade. Staffers who are worried about losing their jobs may not feel comfortable speaking up to ask for better equipment. So, reach out and make sure all employees have what they need as we head into the winter months. (Related: “The 5 Most Common Tech Challenges in the New Remote-Work Normal.”)
These are just a few tips for ways to boost office morale. How are you keeping your team’s spirits up?
Joan Feldman contributed to this article.
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