4 Ways to Cultivate a Work Culture That Encourages Positive Habits

positive habits
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positive habits

In light of COVID-19, many employers have been forced to close their office doors. Thankfully though, this hasn’t meant a complete shutdown for most businesses. Instead, it’s been a transition to managing teams remotely.

During this time of drastic and sudden change, it’s critical employers find ways to keep morale and productivity high. Here’s how to cultivate a work culture that encourages positive habits — both at home and back in the workplace:

1. Prioritize self-care

Your workers are going through a lot right now. Most likely, they’re so focused on taking care of others that there’s no time left for self-care. 

Unfortunately, this hurts not only their personal well-being but also your company’s success. Their pent-up stress can translate into being disengaged and unproductive at work — neither of which are good for your bottom-line.

Support their self-care by encouraging positive habits during the workday and after-hours. Here’s just a sampling of ideas:

At homeBack at the office
Send weekly email blasts with healthy lunch ideas. Compile a virtual company cookbook that everyone can reference for inspiration.Continue the email blasts and coordinate monthly lunch potlucks for employees to share their favorite recipe finds.
Start a “sleep challenge” where employees log how many z’s they get per night. Those who consistently hit 7+ hours receive a reward (like clocking out early on Fridays).Keep the challenge and get creative with the incentives! 
Encourage exercise breaks during the day. Let them know it’s OK to take a 10-minute walk, do a short yoga practice, or have a dance party in the living room with their kids.Tell everyone to bring in a pair of athletic shoes to keep in the office. They should continue taking walking breaks as needed.

2. Encourage everyone to organize their workspace

Every employee has a different version of their “home office.” Some have an entire room, others have a desk, and many have to make do with just a couch or coffee table. But no matter the setup, they all need a dedicated, organized workspace.

After all, stress is inevitable if your employees are working in chaos. And while keeping things tidy may not come naturally for everyone, practicing these positive habits at home will help reinforce the skills needed in the office:

At homeBack at the office
Ask employees to designate a particular spot for their laptops/monitors. Just as they sit at the same desk in the office, they should “commute” to the same space at home.Computers may have an assigned spot, but what about your employees’ binders? Archived files? Stacks of to-do paperwork? Remind them to find a place for everything.
Create a new rule that the last 5 minutes of every day should be spent clearing workspace clutter. Lead by example and share pictures of your end-of-day setup.If needed, shift the focus away from desks and concentrate on organizing conference rooms, breakrooms, and file rooms.

3. Set boundaries

Shifting to remote work brings the importance of work-life balance front and center. Instead of worrying about employees bringing their work home with them, you’re now facing the reality that their home life is their work life. 

It can be all too easy for employees and managers alike to blur the line between their personal and professional worlds. Here are a few tips for setting boundaries:

At homeBack at the office
Encourage employees to sit down with their families and discuss how teleworking will affect everyone in the house.Employees should always share if a new project will interrupt their workflow and/or contributions to the team.
Ask your staff to follow a regular schedule. Given the circumstances of the coronavirus, it may not be their typical office hours — but it should stay as consistent as possible.Don’t let employees habitually stay late. Even though it may be appreciated in the moment, you don’t want extra hours leading to burnout over time.

4. Provide ways to stay connected

One of the biggest negatives of telework? Social isolation. According to the 2020 State of Remote Work survey, loneliness is consistently selected as a top struggle for remote workers.

And right now, your employees aren’t only struggling with loneliness from working remotely. They’re also facing loneliness from social distancing. Keep this in mind as you aim to build positive habits for staying connected:

At homeBack at the office
Schedule watercooler chats. Carve out 30 minutes each week to talk about life, play trivia, share pictures of pets, review recent Netflix shows, etc.Check in with your employees and have them do the same for each other. Not every meeting has to focus 100% on the work at hand.
Even on busy days, remind staff to “stop by” someone’s virtual desk just as they would in the office. Recommend using video calling or instant messaging to connect.Help employees learn to recognize when their workload is too heavy. It shouldn’t become so overwhelming that they have no time for social interactions.
Ask employees to regularly compliment or acknowledge co-workers’ accomplishments in a public space such as Slack (or your company’s social media equivalent).No change here — keep up the coworker compliments! This helps employees know their efforts are recognized and appreciated, as well as builds team morale.
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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, LinkedIn.