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How to fulfill work-related needs?

Reading time
11 min read

Date
Jul 13, 2020

Applying Service Design to discover the effects of Covid-19 on your job satisfaction.

Blog 2/3 in the series “The new remote employee experience”

 

Why are some people able to thrive in this new remote working situation, while others have serious difficulties? And how do you, as an employer, keep your employees happy when they are all working remotely?

In our previous blog The new balancing act between life and work, we provided practical tips to keep a healthy balance. In this blog, we dig deeper into the different emotional needs that we, as employees have towards our jobs. Some of us seek opportunities to keep developing ourselves. Others thrive in an environment in which they feel appreciated and connected to their colleagues. Which needs are most important depends on the individual and their context. 

 

Employee Experience is all about discovering these needs and finding a way to support your people in fulfilling them. Covid-19 doesn’t change our core needs, we still want that same feeling of connection, or we still want to be challenged to learn. However, the situation we are currently in changes the options we have to fulfil them. 

 

The frustrations we might experience today arise from needs that are fulfilled insufficiently. Therefore, we have to start recognizing the needs of our people. Of course, employees are not the only ones who are responsible for fulfilling their work-related needs. The organisation they work for should play an active part in allowing them to do so. Being aware of the effect that the current times have on the fulfilment of employees’ needs can help organisations to anticipate in the right way to keep everyone happy.

Ten key needs to keep an eye on

At Koos, we use different tools to structure our research findings to define people’s needs. One of our favourites is the ‘morphological tension model’. A bit of a mouthful, but here’s a short explanation: The morphological tension model focuses on finding out subconscious emotional structures behind everyday human experience and behaviour. If you want to know more about the model, click here

 

To identify the changing needs of employees, we did 13 in-depth interviews with people from different organizations, ranging from a communication advisor to sport instructor to UX designer. From the interviews, we identified ten needs organisations should pay special attention to. These needs are heavily affected and have to be fulfilled in a different way, now that we’re all working under different circumstances. 

1. Feeling connected

A trusted environment, where you can be open and share experiences with your colleagues, to feel part of the ‘whole’.

Working from home, it’s hard to reach out to your colleagues. At the office, you were able to casually chit-chat when bumping into each other at the coffee machine. Today, these informal moments of serendipity have turned into scheduled online meetings. This creates barriers, making us feel less connected to our colleagues and keeping us from spontaneous moments. This reduces the feeling of being connected. 

 

What can you do?

  • Give colleagues a spontaneous call and ask them how they are doing instead of having a work-related conversation 
  • Stimulate spontaneous (coffee) moments by creating online ‘lounge’ rooms where employees can spontaneously meet to have a chat.

Sometimes, it feels a bit as if I'm on my own little island.

What I also really like is that people now express their appreciation more often, normally they don't really do that.

2. Appreciation

The feeling of getting recognition for your efforts and good qualities

At the office, it’s possible to give someone a compliment or a high five. At home, it feels harder to show your appreciation to others or get it in return. 

Working from home can result in the feeling that your efforts are not being seen by your colleagues or boss. This makes you feel underappreciated, and you end up being less motivated or satisfied about your work. 

On this other side, being in a crisis can also make your colleagues more aware of the effort and commitment you put in during these hard times. This then results in getting more appreciation for what you are doing.

 

What can you do?

  • Plan a recurring moment to reflect with the team to look at what has been done and give each other compliments about their performance. 
  • Create a special channel for compliments, this works well because other colleagues also become aware of the compliments.
  • Show your appreciation by just sending a small ‘thank you’ gesture. For example in the form of a card or some flowers, but a simple message already goes a long way.

3. Involvement

Keeping up with what’s going on and being able to get involved with things you get energy from. 

Even though you might still work in your team, remote working can still result in barely speaking to people in other teams. This reduces the connection with what’s going on in the wider organisation. What are other teams doing? What’s happening? 

The distance makes it harder to keep up with your colleagues and their work. In the end, when you don’t know what is going on, it is also harder to stay involved. #FOMO!!

 

What can you do?

  • Stimulate teams to give updates about their work: Make sure everyone still feels involved from a distance by creating awareness about what work is currently being done.
  • Create (visual) overviews of running projects and activities, so everyone can check upon what is going on, who is doing what and in the end get involved in what they think is exciting. 

Things you are not involved with, you now really have no clue about.

The prospect is important for your mood, how long will this take? When will it be normal again?

4. Assurance

Feeling secure about what you are doing now and what will happen in the future. 

A crisis means a lot of insecurities about society and the economy. But also about work. It creates uncertainty about what’s expected from you and your colleagues. 

It also creates uncertainty about the future. Some weeks ago, you probably had a plan for the coming year, with targets and goals. Today, you might not be so sure. This can create a lot of worries and in the end greatly influence the mental wellbeing of employees, especially those who thrive in an environment which is stable. 

 

What can you do?

  • Give clear and honest updates about the company’s situation on a regular basis. Be transparent about how the company is doing, and which scenarios you have prepared.
  • Give employees room to ask questions and have a discussion to make sure employees feel they have a part in the decisions being made.

5. Regularity

Having routine and structure so you can work efficiently and effectively. 

Going to the office, eating lunch with your colleagues, having regular meetings. All of these create a work routine and regularity. For some, the true self-disciplined, regularity is still possible as they can handle this all by themselves. 

But for others, the home office comes with a lot of irregularities and loss of structure of the day. Working hours become vague as people get distracted by other things like the household, children or housemates. Some even lose their whole rhythm and just start working in their pyjamas on the couch. 

What can you do?

  • Schedule  day starts (and closings) with the team so everyone maintains the same working hours and routine
  • Nurture old routines. Stimulate and share activities that positively influence structure and routine, such as morning walks or set lunch breaks. 

Before you know it, I am baking a cake or mopping the floors.

Existing collaborations are working well, but starting new collaborations or relationships remotely is difficult.

6. Networking

Interacting with other people with a specific goal in mind, such as learning, building a (professional) relation or creating a new business.

Networking and building new relationships is challenging, especially when doing it remotely. It’s easier to continue existing relationships than to build new ones. There are no (physical) events to meet new people at or start some small talk while sipping a coffee. These encounters now have to happen online. 

We are now forced to think about different ways to network, meet new clients and maintain and build relations. 

 

What can you do?

  • Show thought leadership by sharing learnings with other organisations or employees. 
  • Host webinars or (remote) meetups so you can still get in touch with new people and start new relationships. 

7. Working together

Being in an environment where you can work collaboratively towards a common goal. 

To fulfil this need today, people need to work together remotely. However, interacting through a computer screen is just very different from doing this face-to-face, right? 

It results in a lack of richness in discussions. Colleagues might get less engaged in meetings since they are easily distracted by their surroundings. Physical interactions (such as simply showing something to your colleague) or nonverbal communication can be difficult via video. 

 

What can you do?

  • Leave room for an informal opening and closing during a meeting. Open with an energizer or some small talk about the weekend.
  • Have clear guidelines and a designated facilitator who facilitates the meeting and keeps attention to the engagement of colleagues. 
  • Use breakout rooms to facilitate conversations with fewer people, making it easier to have rich discussions. 

It’s not a smooth and natural conversation but more an ‘ask and get an answer conversation’.

Fucking hell, change of scenery would be nice.

8. Variation

Being stimulated and surprised in a diverse working environment.

The combination of working from your home office and minimizing social contact results in less variation and a much more predictable (maybe even boring) working week. In the end, this lack of variation in your day affects the enjoyment of working. 

 

What can you do?

  • Organize spontaneous activities or initiatives. Think coffee moments, learning activities or Friday afternoon drinks. Yay! 
  • Try to offer employees variation in tasks, for example, create multiple part-time project teams instead of putting everyone on 1 task.

9. Broaden your skillset

Broaden your knowledge about other fields to develop yourself both personally and professionally.

Due to these big and rapid changes, we are dealing with a lot of urgent new challenges. This situation drives people to broaden horizons and learn new relevant skills. However, not everyone might be comfortable doing this. Especially people who thrive more in a stable environment experience discomfort, as they are now forced to broaden their horizons. 

What can you do?

  • Offer internal learning modules for your employees so they can learn new relevant skills.
  • Share inspiring sources amongst colleagues to broaden your skillset.

I used to give gym classes in an actual gym. Now, I have to do everything online. I like to come up with new ways to do this and challenge myself.

I’ve got more time now to focus on core business. I can really lose myself in this.

10. Expertise

Deepening your knowledge or understanding and becoming an expert in your field. 

This is the time to improve and refine our existing skills. There are two reasons why this is interesting: 

    1. The employer benefits from a deeper understanding of a topic.
    2. People simply have more time. Especially in organisations where employees have more time than ever (like hospitality), employers can simulate their employees to improve relevant skills or knowledge. 

It’s great if employees take time to deepen their knowledge, but it’s even better if they could share their learnings with colleagues.

 

What can you do?

  • Create deepdive modules or share online courses that are relevant to your organisation. 
  • Facilitate moments where colleagues can share their learnings. 

Time to anticipate on your employee needs

Of course, these ten needs are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s just a little snapshot of the wider range of needs that are important to create a satisfying employee experience. Every organisation is different, with different people and personalities and different needs. Therefore, improving your employee experience asks for a tailored approach. 

Curious about how to prepare for the new world? 

Whatever happens in the near future, we will inevitably have to deal with a new reality. A world full of new challenges. Times like these tend to trigger risk-aversive behaviour and increase the desire for stability. That’s why we dedicate the third blog in this series to help you navigate and change towards a new work environment that supports and inspires your colleagues on all important aspects.

Stay tuned!

Do you want to know more about Employee Experience?

Looking back on our first fully remote project

Preparing for the new world

Anniversary Interview – Jette

The new balancing act between life and work

Why design can help your company in times of crisis

How do you set up a remote user test?

When your home becomes your office

Ten years of Koos (part 2)

Ten years of Koos (part 1)

Employee Experience exceeds HR