I sit in an office alone, in a large room of about 100m2. In our company, the open space is usually full of life, with conversations flowing in various languages, and many loud voices talking over one another. So much so that requests to keep the volume down may be heard from time to time from the far end of the open space. Currently, it is quite rare for another colleague to come into the room I am working in at the office, where we observe a safe distance of at least 10 meters.
However, it cannot be said that I miss my colleagues. Interesting, isn’t it? You may be all alone in the office, but at the same time communication is very intense – I write at least 5 times more emails than before the Covid-19 pandemic. There are also intensive video calls with colleagues, which give a sense of presence. I must admit that daily communications with colleagues have contained more jokes and sometimes even everyday conversations. These conversions were previously missing, as it is unusual to talk about anything more than the tasks at hand.
My job is at a data technology company SQUALIO. Yes, perhaps it has been easier for us to adapt to these conditions caused by the pandemic, because in the past we have had experience working remotely – both with branches in other countries and working from home when needed. Despite the fact that we are experienced and knowledgeable with digital skills, the reason why our company’s team feels so cohesive, motivated and involved is the recognition technology for team building, which we have been using for three years.
Half a year ago, when I told someone about this, they would grin and ask – how then? Do you do everything only virtually? You don’t have real face-to-face communication?
We do. And a lot of it. That is exactly why we also use this recognition technology. When Sandis Kolomenskis, the head of Squalio, asked colleagues at the quarterly meeting three years ago – what are the values of our company? – The audience usually heard an unpleasant silence. The values existed. They were written both on the wall and placed in the “About us” section of the company’s website, but on a daily basis our team did not feel or associate them with their work. The employee survey also proved this, showing that only 29% of employees felt connected to the company’s values on a daily basis. Learning from the best (Disney Institute, USA), we realized that in order for the team to associate themselves with the company’s values, each employee must be able to identify and feel them in their daily work. Analyzing the world’s best practices, we realized that positive feedback on a daily basis promotes a team’s motivation, involvement and productivity twice as much as a team focusing on negative feedback and areas for improvement. In turn, the decision was quite simple – we will combine the company’s values with recognition and positive feedback.
It was the introduction of technology, not another HR process, that helped bring the culture of value and recognition to life. We created an app for ourselves that provides all of the above. How does it work? On my recognition application account, I have the opportunity to express recognition to colleagues by sending “virtual coins” for any good work done by this colleague. Before sending the recognition, I note one of the company’s values and insert the comment, for which work in particular I express this specific recognition. As simple as that! I see our team’s Top 10 value ambassadors, as well as all the accolades I have received or sent.
Why does it work?
It creates a sense of belonging remotely:
One may ask, why am I advertising this now? Because I am one of those individuals who is not ashamed to admit that Covid-19 has deprived me of a considerable amount of peace. It causes stress due to uncertainty and insecurity about the future, and I feel extreme discomfort because I cannot live my normal life. Although, at the beginning, I wrote that I even enjoy my empty open space, to be honest, I enjoy it only because I have not lost touch with my colleagues, and I receive and send a lot of recognition on a daily basis. Exactly like that! Giving positive feedback to colleagues fosters a sense of belonging and increases the motivation to do more and better, even in these rather difficult circumstances.
I would like to encourage anyone who reads this to share positive feedback. Share the positive, notice and really appreciate the little things each of us does on a daily basis! Breathe life into the company’s values, because in these circumstances they can help you focus on your work and treat both your customers, partners and the team appropriately!