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Trending / December 29, 2020

Silver Linings: How Working from Home Strengthened Our Global Workforce

As we approach the holiday season and the end of what was arguably the most challenging year of the 21st century, I’ve been reflecting on how much we’ve grown as a team since the first shelter-in-place order took effect. Back in March, when we all started working from home (with short notice), our lives shifted but our priorities remained intact. We were suddenly faced with new challenges, especially when it came to keeping everyone engaged not only with work, but more importantly with each other.

To help ease employee anxiety, we created resources everyone could access that included updates and important information. We focused on virtual opportunities such as internal events and communication channels, where our teams could engage in meaningful ways. We also sent special care packages to employees globally that the whole family could enjoy.

Recently, I realized that our updates are becoming less frequent as we get closer to some sense of normalcy each day with the new routines we’ve established. Finding our collective rhythm in the midst of chaos hasn’t been easy, but the actions we took early on helped immensely. Here are some of the key areas that brought us closer together while keeping us on track.

We Focused on Employee Engagement 

Looking back at our employee pulse survey results from just one year ago, I’m encouraged by the spike we’ve seen in engagement this year. Despite all of us being physically apart, our 2020 results showed that engagement actually increased significantly. This tells me that our efforts in keeping our teams connected virtually are helping and heading in the right direction.

In addition to creating an internal resources hub for COVID-related updates and information, we provided several communication channels where our employees can interact on various topics outside of standard work dialogue, including GigaPets, GigaParents and GigaGeeks, as well as a channel for random conversation. We also recently announced our “Culture Club” Slack channel, which promotes awareness and appreciation of our many diverse cultures. Our employees use this channel to share information, events, holidays, traditions and other culture-focused topics related to their regions. These things have always been important to Gigamon, but the events of 2020 put an even greater emphasis on inclusion and I’m grateful that our global workforce embraces this.

Work-life Integration Went into Full Effect

The integration of our personal and professional lives was already a challenge pre-COVID. Now, with those lines blurred more than ever, it’s vital that we help employees strike a healthy balance. We never want anyone to feel like they’re always on the clock, so we took quick action to determine how we would best mitigate this. Every Gigamon team member knows that they can confidently approach their managers to schedule time off, but that’s not enough during periods of upheaval. To really enforce downtime, we implemented off days at regular intervals throughout the year. Early in the pandemic, we intentionally scheduled these “down days” on Fridays, Mondays and around holidays to maximize longer weekends and encourage rest, fun and health.

Safety Remained a Top Priority

At the time of this writing, we have no immediate return-to-office (RTO) plans, but we understand that many team members are eager to get back to some sense of normalcy. We address every concern that comes to us and we’re transparent with employees that while we are actively working on the RTO plan, we don’t yet have a definitive date for when it will go into effect. I am hopeful that we are getting closer to this goal each day, especially as vaccines are now beginning to be distributed. Still, we will always put our employees first, and right now we will continue to work from home.

We Provided Tools to Continue Expanding Skills

The human mind needs constant stimulation in order to increase function and promote wellness. Idleness is not just the enemy of work, it can also be a major contributor to stress and depression. With everyone spending more time than ever at home and looking for things to do, we thought about how we might help our teams stay motivated, and LinkedIn Learning was the perfect fit. This platform provides online courses taught by industry experts in software, creative and business skills. It turned out to be a huge hit, with nearly 70 percent of our employees signing up. As a bonus, programs like LinkedIn Learning enhance employees’ skill sets, making this a beneficial addition to the entire organization.

Takeaway

As we welcome 2021 with high hopes and several lessons learned, I expect many of the items on this list will continue, especially those that shine a brighter light on communication and collaboration. I look forward to sharing more silver linings as we help our teams stay safe and connected in the new year. Enjoy the holiday season!

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