Leveraging video communications to build a workplace culture of careBy Ricky Kapur
Trust and technology are the cornerstones of a productive hybrid workplace.
Earlier this year, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower launched iWorkHealth, an online self-administered psychosocial health assessment tool for employees to pinpoint workplace stressors. Considering that 8 in 10 Singaporean workers experienced burnout when remote working became the norm, it’s certainly a timely intervention.
Beyond highlighting the gravity of mental wellbeing as organisations come to terms with hybrid work, there is a larger point to be made here about the use of virtual tools to combat mental health issues at work. With video communications platforms now a mainstay of the modern workplace, it’s easy to imagine how video can also be leveraged to help organisations establish a sustainable culture of care for their employees - very much like how it has helped industries across the board maintain business continuity during the pandemic.
Where employee wellbeing is concerned, remote work has caused workplace stressors to take on new and sobering facades. Common issues include feelings of social isolation, an inability to disconnect from work and the increasingly blurred lines between work and personal life as working hours stretch on. Despite these challenges, it’s clear that remote work is not going anywhere. The truth is, employees themselves are driving demand for permanent flexi-work arrangements, citing perks in convenience, cost savings and more.
The future of work will be hybrid, and 72% of executives in Singapore foresee their organisations adopting hybrid ways of working post-pandemic. However, the full potential of hybrid work, and by extension video communications, can only be maximised if companies seriously consider mental health as a yardstick for organisational success.
Beyond the workplace, we’ve seen video communications availing new frontiers and possibilities for the treatment of mental health issues, such as private teleconsultations that can be conducted from the comfort of our own homes. For the workplace, there is a ready opportunity for us to turn video communication on its head, and leverage it to make hybrid work work. Here are 3 simple ways to start:
Harness video to drive employee engagement
According to a Qualtrics report released earlier this year, the most-missed activity for employees in the office is having spontaneous interactions with their colleagues. With the growing trend of employees working fully remote from the get-go, it is increasingly critical that employers foster greater connection between distributed teams and fill the gap in employee engagement.
Luckily, video has unveiled new possibilities for what employee engagement can look like in the new hybrid normal. From bringing teams together across geographical borders to playing party games over a video call, team bonding activities can now take on a whole new interactive dimension. Even within virtual work meetings, engaging participants could be as simple as improving lighting to brighten up the room, using enhanced noise suppression to cut through the background noise or sharing emojis to liven an otherwise monotonous session. Either way, the role of video will be key to improving the quality of employee engagement across work functions and processes.
Craft and implement organisation-wide HR policies with employee input
While HR policies often underpin an organisation’s commitment to employee wellbeing, these policies need to be enacted in consultation and agreement with employees. This might require companies to conduct regular surveys to collect feedback or organise frequent town halls, which can be easily done through video even with large, distributed teams. These practices can offer employees the peace of mind that their psychological wellbeing is being taken seriously.
At the same time, organisations must recognise the importance of giving their employees flexibility and choice when it comes to reevaluating their workplace strategy. Leadership buy-in is key to advancing a flexible work culture and employees should be able to choose where and how they want to work - whether it is remotely, in the office or both, rather than being given just one way to work. Embracing a consultative approach that focuses on meaningful change and empowerment from the bottom-up will build up a culture of care and an environment where employees feel most mentally balanced and productive. This is essential for building and maintaining a high level of trust between employees and employers.
While there is no one-size-fits-all strategy to tackle mental health in the workplace, we’ve found that having the right HR policies in place often ladders down into healthy everyday work practices. Organisations should consider adopting the “3As” framework – agenda, attendees and action items. Each meeting starts with an agenda and ends with documented action items, ensuring that attendees are efficient and effective during the discussion. We also recommend scheduling 25-minute or 55-minute meetings to give employees time to recover mentally between meetings, which can go a long way in reducing burnout.
Establish an open, inclusive and trusting environment for employees to do their best work
Trust and technology are the cornerstones of a productive hybrid workplace. While the success of remote work over the pandemic has dispelled traditional notions that working from home is unproductive, there remain calls for employees to return to the office across industries. This boils down to the fact that some employers are still hesitant that workers can be equally productive in their own time. In fact, a Gartner report has found that the number of top performers in a company rises by 19% if provided flexible working hours, demonstrating that employees can work at their best in an hybrid environment, but only if they are trusted to.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a culture of trust. The good news is that leveraging video can take us one step closer. Video communications platforms now come with features like automated translation and transcription as well as “raise hand” functionalities, which will help foster an inclusive environment for employees to speak up and have their voices heard - regardless of language or confidence barriers.