Engaging With Your Employees

The past few weeks have brought anxiety and uncertainty to arts and culture organizations across the globe. We have all taken unprecedented steps to ensure the safety of staff and communities and to rise to the challenge of reimagining access to arts and culture.

As many of our organizations transition to remote working situations, the cultural sector is well equipped to maintain a sense of connection and engagement. Working from home can be challenging and isolating, and we wanted to offer some ideas on how to support morale and encourage a sense of connection. Many of these ideas come from our colleagues and clients in Asia, who have demonstrated ingenuity and courage over the past few weeks, drawing on the content and purpose of their institutions to guide them, as they now begin to a slow return to everyday life.  

Stay Connected

  • Your staff want to hear from you: establish regular video conference calls – it makes a difference when you can see one another.
  • Arrange phone conference ‘townhalls’ for Directors and CEOs to update employees and provide space for questions.
  • Engage your team at its broadest; part-time workers, contract workers, and volunteers may be experiencing a higher level of anxiety due to an uncertain future.
  • Make time for social activity. Consider a virtual ‘chat’ happy hour, start a virtual book group or yoga session; getting together with colleagues to socialize is an essential part of the workday experience.

Leverage Creativity

  • This is a marathon not a sprint. We’re likely to be in this situation for the foreseeable future, ask curators to give staff teach-ins on their specialist areas, give educators Facebook live access and dig through your archives for inspirational stories.
  • Encourage creative thinking; ask your workforce for ideas of how to bring your organization to life for their stakeholders. 
  • Create space to tackle long-term projects that are often side-lined during normal operations, such as online training, deeper research, database management. 

Support Each Other

  • Create open dialogue, asking employees to share their working from home experience and tips –how to stay focused and productive, keeping children’s home learning on track, favorite home lunches, etc. 
  • Help colleagues revert from work mode back to home mode. Just as returning home from a usual day in the office, it is important to define the close of the working day. 
  • Keep an eye on more extroverted colleagues, who usually build energy through constant interaction with other people. They may need more help finding ways to replace human contact and fuel themselves for the day.

Trust Your Team

  • You have a team of talented and capable colleagues who know how to do their jobs. During this period of remote working, trust them to continue performing at a high level, and be ready to support them when issues arise. 
  • Extensive periods of remote working will have us all juggling work and family in new and unexpected ways, so allow as much flexibility as you can in how colleagues tackle their work. So long as the work is done on-time and in the right form, the output is far more important than the manner of achieving it.

Please feel free to share any other ideas with us. We know this is a challenging time for us all, and Brunswick Arts is here to support you, your colleagues, and your audiences as the situation develops.