The Trillium Network Council PDX Committee hosts a monthly virtual café to foster engagement and promote wellness through positivity.
In March, Feel Good Friday focused on the theme of virtual work, facilitated by Cathy Cummings, CAE. What seemed like an interesting concept in 2019 became a reality for the entire world in 2020! Many large companies like Google and Microsoft declared quite early that they were not bringing their workforces back into a bricks and mortar environment for the foreseeable future and that gave their employees the runway to plan.
Associations had to deal with this shift on a smaller scale, and have embraced the concept of virtual work. What does the future hold as we emerge from the pandemic? Some will return to a bricks and mortar office environment, some will return to a blended model and others will remain fully virtual.
Cathy posed several questions to the group for discussion. Where does your organization stand on this continuum and where do you as an individual fit within that? Specifically, what does your organizational leadership want to happen, and what do individual employees want to happen? Cathy proposed several considerations within this topic: What’s happening in your area? Are vaccines available? Are there sufficient supports for daycare and elder care? Do employees feel comfortable coming back? What kind of safety measures are in place? For example, if only two people may use an elevator, how do you account for the extra time which will impact the workforce? If employees are from two different zones such as Gatineau and Ottawa, with different provincial restrictions, can the workplace have a single plan? Have you sought professional human resources or legal advice?
After the breakout room discussions, participants shared their top points with the group.
- Ensure that people are motivated to work on-site when they have to; people prefer choice.
- Find out what people want to do. Do a survey! Invite feedback in safe environment.
- Clearly define your return to workplace plan. The workplace environment needs to feel safe and comfortable for those who come in. Ensure protocols are in place, such as physical distancing and masks. Encourage employees to get vaccinated. Implement paid sick time to reduce the risk of people going to work while sick due to financial need.
- Communication is key and stakeholders, employers and staff need increased empathy and understanding. Recognize that not everyone has the flexibility to stay at home.
- This is a good time re-evaluate lease agreements and re-negotiate if the association wants to go fully virtual.
- If you’re working remotely, make time to decompress, such as a fake commute – go outside and then come back in.
In her closing remarks, Cathy summarized a Washington Post Article: 6 Ways Your Office Will Be Different in 2021, Assuming You Ever Go Back to It.
Join us for the next Feel Good Friday on May 7th at noon on the topic of creating value propositions in the virtual world.
Cathy Cummings is the Chair of Trillium PDX Committee and the Executive Director of The International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations.