Keeping Up Hope – 5 things leaders are doing for staff working from home

- March 18, 2020 2 MIN READ
Photo: AdobeStock


Ever heard of that psychological experiment where they get volunteers to count basketball passes, on a recorded video, and almost everybody gets the number of passes right, only to miss the guy dressed head to toe as a gorilla casually stroll by the background?

I spoke with 38 leaders and here’s the thing: almost everybody is dealing with the usual unusual, but there are a few leaders that are looking at it from a totally alternative perspective of how to build people up in uncertain teams.

Five things that surprised me:

1) Care kits

Several leaders had organised care kits, basically a Christmas hamper with a hand-written note, comfort food, and other gifts to create those feelings of taking care of “family”, and that element of unexpected warmth and hospitality right at the beginning. It’s not the start of a vacation, but it changed my outlook and perspective.


2) A BBQ 

One company sent all their work-from-home employees a Baby Weber, complete with spices and instructions and is now having a company wide Friday cook-off. Wow. Just wow. They even included a vegan option, to cover all bases.


3) Mandatory, fortnightly EAP

EAP (employee assistance program) – short 30-minute or 1-hour sessions of independent psychological counselling is available for most employees at larger organisations, but often hardly gets used because of perceived stigma or tight usage restrictions.

One leader scheduled their entire work from home team to 30 mins of EAP every 2 weeks, fully paid by the company, both the session and the salaried time.

Use it to talk about sports, your hobbies, or anything at all, by scheduling everybody for EAP, they reduced the stigma and opened up a private, judgement free outlet that takes away some elements of the pressure cooker aspect.


4) Pot Plants

One leader sent their entire team, each, a pretty potted indoor plant with a name and care instructions. Staff are encouraged to post to a slack channel with a cute kitschy name with “growing” updates, along with a vanity contest for plant of the week. It’s fun, upbeat, different.


5) Skill Exchange

This volunteer driven initiative has staff volunteer to teach a 30 minute video session on any passion topic they like – Yoga, Gardening, – whatever you feel confident and passionate about. Staff working from home take a popular vote and every Wednesday, the most popular topic has a mid afternoon learning session, paid for on salaried time, to provide a break and change of pace, from the regular grind. This encourages collaboration, team bonding, and discovery.

Even though you may be leading a team mainly working from home, hopefully these 5 inspirational ideas give you some inspiration to make people feel safe, valued, and inspired.