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​Physically Distant, Socially Connected: How to guide a global workforce through troubling times

May 14, 2020

While Covid-19 reshapes industries, economies and societies in previously unimaginable ways, business leaders need to think beyond immediate survival to unite employees and define culture for the long-haul.

Our industry is at the heart of the crisis but people are standing together and looking out for each other thanks to open discussion, a robust online community, and caring culture. Here's how to keep your employees connected, apart. 

Communicate transparently – Open clear channels of communication with employees, listen with empathy and respond honestly. Where there’s a dearth of dialogue or a top-down approach, misinformation will fill the void, eroding engagement and culture. CWT hosts all-employee townhalls with our CEO and executive leadership every few weeks. So far we’ve held four of them, attended by 3-5,000 employees in 40+ countries. The recordings are listened to by another 1-2,000 employees. Our CEO’s blog posts are regularly read by over half of the workforce.

Build a multi-faceted online community – With a highly dispersed global workforce of 16,000+ people spread across nearly 50 countries, strengthening bonds was important before the pandemic. Now, it’s critical that our social intranet doesn’t just replace water cooler chat but bolsters collaboration, inclusion and wellbeing too. Look beyond technology as a means to conduct meetings – host online gym classes, introduce recipe-sharing forums, share successes, exchange wellbeing tips, and schedule informal catch-ups.

Put your people first –Covid-19 has ushered in one of the biggest work-life transformations of our lifetime. Studies show the average workday has increased by 40% due to childcare, home-schooling, and changing roles. Physical safety is paramount, of course, but it’s important to address the need for authentic connections, purpose, and personal autonomy in the context of an unfolding crisis.

Many forward-thinking companies have taken advantage of government schemes, introduced pay-cuts at executive level and will allow staff to return to workplaces gradually and when they feel safe to do so.

Every company in the world is facing big decisions. It has never been more important to remember the saying: “You don’t build a business, you build people, and then people build the business.” 


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