5 ways we're supporting each other during the pandemic

Becky Wood

As the second year of remote work drags on for many organizations, preventing burnout is becoming harder than ever. 

At Humu, we know that keeping teams connected and motivated in a virtual setting requires mixing up your approach from time to time. That’s why we’ve rolled out several flexible HR policies over the past year.

Here are five specific steps we’ve taken to ensure that we’re still making it a priority to get together, and to continue supporting and inspiring each other. (Plus, a few insights into how we’re managing the uncertainty around our eventual return to the office.) 

1. Giving people every other Friday off

Our most popular and effective policy shift was to make every other Friday an official day off, or a “Recharge Friday.”

“Recharge Fridays are SUCH a gift,” shared Humu Sales Director Rachel Flowers, “And the best one I’ve ever received from an employer.”

“It's the type of thing you don’t realize you need until you have it,” Rachel explained. “This past Friday I took my daughter to the zoo and we had a fabulous mommy/daughter day. I was so grateful because I really don't get enough of those as a working mom, especially in a pandemic when places feel too crowded for my comfort on weekends.” 

The shift has had a big impact. Employee burnout is down and satisfaction is up, with zero dip in productivity.

When our team is well-rested, they’re more focused and effective.

2. Humu-sponsored “Picnics in the Park”

To encourage face-to-face collaboration, we also started sponsoring coffee, food, or drinks for any get together with 2 or more fellow Humuns.

Many of these gatherings take the form of socially distanced outdoor meetups (we’re lucky because many of us live in California where it’s sunny year-round!), but they can also be casual video calls. Picnics in the Park are always a big mood boost, and an easy and delicious way to feel connected to our colleagues.

3. Transparent Future of Work discussions

Of course, no matter how much employers tweak their WFH policies to support their people, the top question on everyone’s mind is, “When will we go back to the office?”

To ease employees’ anxieties, we held a proactive All Hands with Humu leadership to talk through our ongoing internal discussions about the future of work at Humu. We want the decision-making process to be as transparent as possible, so it doesn’t feel like an out-of-context decision handed down from the top.

We know that it’s better for leaders to say “We’re not sure yet” than to say nothing, so we’re being open about what we have decided (like the fact that most people will return to the office eventually, for at least a day or two a week) as well as what we haven’t (like exactly when that return to office will happen.) 

In the All Hands our leadership team addressed common employee concerns. For example, they reassured everyone that no one will be forced back to the office before they feel safe doing so. To help people with future planning, it was also announced that we’ll be working from home at least through the end of July.We plan to continue these open discussions as we build the hybrid future of work at Humu, making sure no one feels left out. 

4. Leadership team Q&A sessions

‍Studies show that random encounters between coworkers can facilitate innovation and help employees feel connected. But because of COVID, we noticed that those encounters weren’t happening as often, especially among new hires. After realizing that some new employees had never had a direct conversation with our leadership team, we started weekly informal leadership team Q&As: 30 minute Zoom calls with random coworkers and at least one of Humu’s leaders.

The calls are optional, but employees enjoy the chance to interact with busy coworkers and ask questions of leadership. They come with questions and leave with a better understanding of leaders’ vision for the company. (Plus, it’s a nice break from their day-to-day.)

5. Team-led "Zoom room" activities

‍Humu employees have a lot more in common than where they work. To help share those interests, Humuns have started informal Zoom calls around specific activities, like crafting or board games.

At one recent “Crafternoon,” several crafty Humuns sat down with a personal art project —including cross stitch, paint-by-number, and coloring with kids— and chatted with each other as they worked. And on occasional game nights, employees who miss the camaraderie of board games come together for “highly competitive” games of Codenames, with loads of laughs along the way. None of these are mandatory fun, which makes them a low-pressure, totally optional way for employees to let off steam and enjoy each other’s company off the clock.

A team that crafts together, like a team that plays Codenames together, is a stronger, happier team to work with.  

These five WFH-friendly policies are just a small part of an overall people strategy focused on empowering our employees to do their best work, informed by our decades of People Science expertise and our work with the Fortune 500. 

Preparing for the return to offices? Get 10 free hybrid work nudges to help you set your teams up for success →   

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