The sudden need for a remote office in 2020 resulted in a crazy rollercoaster of emotions that included fear, enthusiasm, frustration, confusion, discouragement, or reluctance. We struggled with technical issues on our home devices, battles for those devices between family members, kids at home all day, cats on our laptops, and doing laundry between calls. Pretty challenging, wasn’t it? However, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. We’ve survived 2020, and many of us still want to keep working. Here’s the lesson learned: an empty office space doesn’t mean a lack of culture!

Now, we know better than ever that people are the heroes in a company, and they’re the ones we’ve missed the most during this long, ugly year of 2020. Right? So, now it’s Christmas time. 😉 What gift can you give them to make 2021 a better experience? 

Here are our 10 ideas for Christmas gifts to make remote work a better experience in 2021.

1. Respect individual needs

Do you hate receiving emails at midnight? Don’t frustrate your coworkers. Instead, mute your notifications, and don’t read them until morning. Do you love to start your day with calls but your colleagues need to help their kids with homeschooling then? Try to be flexible, and reschedule your day or plant the idea of changing the meeting time to make as many people happy as possible. Set up team rules that don’t affect individual necessities. Remember, you can’t make everybody happy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be sensitive to your team’s needs. Being flexible and respectful in these harsh conditions is the simplest gift you can give.

2. Highlight the company’s values

It’s easy to set company values during times of prosperity and triumphs. You can boast about them on social media and show all the happy faces of your team. But times are rough now. 2020 changed “fresh fruit Wednesdays” and, instead, workations somewhere close to the beach became a thing. Now is the moment to show what the real values of your company are. What is it that brings people together? Many studies, including one conducted by Smartsheet, show that the lack of feeling connected is one of the most important issues to cope with while working remotely. The company’s values are what brings employees together, so, if you haven’t paid special attention to them yet, now is the right time to do so.

3. Be available for your coworkers 

You probably use some, or even many, of the great tools like Slack, Asana, Basecamp, JIRA, Trello, or others to maintain teamwork. They definitely do a good job of tracking work progress and to manage projects. You can use them to help people feel connected as well, but try to be available for them individually. Set up team meetings to discuss problems or ideas in the same way as when you were in the office. Make sure your employees know that you’re happy to catch up with them if they need to. 

4. Give feedback

If it’s not the most important advice to maintain good business relationships anytime, it’s definitely necessary now when everyone is working remotely. Remember that during this time, we all need social contact, good communication, and positive relationships within our team. Now, it’s easier than ever to lose the main purpose of our work and to forget that it translates to our colleagues’ work, too. Offering feedback means showing that you care about relationships, seamless workflow, and that you appreciate someone’s engagement. If you’re not sure how to start, here are some principles for constructive feedback

5. Maintain teamwork

As mentioned above, research shows that employees feel disconnected from their company and team when working remotely. Although everybody is at home, it doesn’t mean that all of their work must be done alone. You can choose from a wide range of tools tailored to improve teamwork. Use them wisely to make everyone’s work more efficient.

6. Nurture the meeting culture 

There are no more in-person meetings, so does that mean no meeting culture is needed? Wrong! Online meetings have reminded us the value of being punctual, definitive, and precise. Prepare for the meetings, be precise, respect others’ time, don’t forget to cancel them if you can’t participate, and think twice about if it’s really necessary to invite everybody. Strengthen your company meeting culture while it’s limited to remote relationships and you’ll benefit after everyone returns to the office. In addition, with the use of dedicated tools, you can master the way people in your company meet and empower a culture of respect and efficiency.

7. Fight against having calls all day

While teamwork and meeting culture are essential even during remote work, you should focus on the goal and not necessarily on how it’s achieved. Bringing people together in the most beneficial way doesn’t mean having meetings all day long. Don’t force brainstorming sessions when it’s not needed only to keep people connected. Give your employees space to work efficiently and to independently manage their time and tasks. It’s the best evidence that you really trust them.

8. It’s OK to have “useless” meetings

Allow yourself to spend 15 minutes everyday to just have a coffee and chat with your team about anything but work. Keep up with their daily joys and worries, make jokes, and share ideas or observations that would otherwise be just in your head alone. Simply enjoy each other’s company. Does that go against the previously mentioned meeting culture and efficiency? Not if you understand the hidden benefit of those “useless” meetings. They can cheer you all up and minimize the absence of in-person social relationships quickly. Do you still remember that in our past office routine, some ideas came up spontaneously during lunch breaks or when you bumped into somebody at the coffee maker? Let’s help out our creativity that is currently bound by remote office reality.

9. Be helpful and supportive

COVID-19 has given us a tough time: For individual work, because you don’t always have the same facilities at home as in the office. For teamwork, because you need to carve out new meeting rules and standards for working together. For employees to not forget who they work with and for, and why they like it. And for employers? We don’t even know where to start 😉 Whatever your role is and no matter on which side you are, try to understand the other side’s perspective. You can be helpful and supportive working from anywhere regardless of how flexible your hours are.

10. Don’t lose your creativity and spontaneity. Come up with the tenth personalized gift by yourself!

We know that everybody will do just fine. Take care, and see you in 2021!