‘Organic, informal conversations happen… much like water-cooler talk’
With the sudden change to a remote work environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are struggling to keep employees connected.
But as employees are physically forced apart from each other, online collaborative communities can help bridge the divide and allow employers to better engage with workers, says the CEO of Chaordix, which offers this service.
“The rapid changes forced upon HR functions and the pivot to move online put employee culture to the test. The quick transition highlighted the importance of a tight-knit employee community for business continuity, and it exposed the need for organizations to keep culture alive in times of remote work,” says Terry Sydoryk in Calgary.
Unlike traditional social networks such as Facebook, these online communities are owned by the employer and are a way to promote the culture of the brand internally, at roughly $2 to $3 per employee per month.
“Individuals are looking for interaction and can benefit from that interaction. A lot of times, we find communication becomes one way. We work on very much a reciprocating, two-way kind of environment,”.
These platforms allow for “organic, informal conversations… much like water-cooler talk,” he says, with options such as themed days, trivia, lunch and learns, and regular surveys and forums for employees to remain engaged while apart.
Focus on culture
Setting up these online communities can help support the HR department, he says, but only if the correct conditions exist.
“Ultimately, it depends on where the organization is with their internal maturity in terms of how they treat the HR function. It allows the HR function to work closely with and demonstrate an empathy and support a communication vehicle with their employees.”
The coronavirus outbreak can indicate the level of engagement within the workforce, says Sydoryk.
“You’ll see that the ease at which people can converse really shines a light into that organizational culture but this platform doesn’t allow you to do that unless it’s ingrained in the culture of the organization and how that that enterprise treats your employee base,” he says.
“At the end of the day, most business is dependent on their people and if you’re not treating those people in the respect that they’re looking for, they’re going to go somewhere else and find it.”
About one in five employees would like the switch to working from home to be made permanent, according to a survey, while safety and good communication are seen as key priorities for workers who return to the office, found another survey.