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Virtual Inclusion: Keeping Your Remote Teams Engaged

02.11.2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With recent announcements indicating that social distancing regulations are likely to be in play until spring 2021 it’s clear that remote working is here to stay. And many organisations are shifting into or preparing for hybrid working models.

Gartner surveyed 800 global HR managers and found that 88% of organisations are now asking employees to continue to work from home regardless of whether they have covd19 symptoms.

Working remotely is challenging and leading remotely even more so especially when driven by circumstance. All of the rapid shifts in operations have left no time for effective change management and employee engagement is taking a massive hit. Employees are feeling isolated, overwhelmed, tired and anxious about the future.

Managers are looking to re-engage their teams and keep morale up.

So what can leaders and managers do to keep employees engaged and feeling included? Dive in.

 

Provide Direction & Confidence

Engaging leaders create engaged workforces.

With so much uncertainty people are looking to leaders for reassurance. Show your employees that you have a strategy, you are listening to them and that you are confidently looking after their safety and wellbeing. No one expects any one person to have all the answers but by being visible, approachable and informed and sharing key information with them on time people will feel confident in your ability to guide them through this moment in time and stay focused on the bigger picture.

 

Amp up the trust -Avoid micromanaging

Engaging your remote works begins with having a high-trust culture. The best way to do this is to keep your communication channels open, redefine performance, set clear expectations and allow your people to work autonomously.

Several companies introduced daily reporting with one or two check in meetings per day to monitor performance at the start of lockdown. This approach, while understandable, will do more to remove trust than to regain it. Show your employees that they are trusted and redefine what performance looks like in 2020. Move from daily reporting to weekly and lean towards check ins instead of reporting. Remember no one wants to do a bad job or underperform and if they are they likely just need more support and a structure that works for them.

 

Create a work-from-home policy (if you haven’t already)

Having a clearly set out work from home policy helps to set expectations across the business and save time on getting asked the same questions repeatedly. Get input from managers across the business and then ask for input from employees. In the policy make sure to cover things like equipment and available remote working tools. Security should be a priority- provide anti virus software if possible or require all employees have up to date software. Include expected working hours with flexibility on breaks. Share this policy or make an adapted version for your contractors, vendors, clients and volunteers.

 

Schedule non work related interactions with colleagues

Schedule virtual 10 -15 minute coffee chats with individual members of your team for friendly non work related conversation or if its work related lean on advice/support/development instead of work related tasks or projects. More importantly encourage your teams to regularly organise these between themselves. Also give them the option of making it a phonecall instead of a video call.

 

Overcommunicate

70% of remote workers feel left out

according to the 2019 State of the Digital Workspace report from Igloo. Now is the time to ramp on communication and change how that communication is delivered to make it engaging, digestible and easy to understand.

Try to use formats your employees respond to and keep it concise whether it’s short videos, presentations or short posts written in friendly and informative language. Then share those on your various communication channels so you can successfully reach and engage with them.

It’s also useful to know what communications channels your employees feel most comfortable with especially when working with a multigenerational workforce.

Invest in training

PWC reported that a third of their employees are anxious about their jobs and 84% are willing to learn new skills to fill in their gaps. That figure around anxiety is likely to be much higher in light of recent few months. Invest in virtual learning for your employees and leaders across the building.

Whether as an organisation you want to concentrate on focused learning and upskilling or company wide transformation it’s time to un-pause your learning and development.

Train your managers on how to communicate with hybrid teams, how to display more compassionate leadership and how to use language more effectively. For employees focus on building resilience and adapting to change.

Since March we have introduced a suite of hybrid working training webinars and leadership development programmes which have helped leaders remain authentic, brave and decisive during this disruptive period. Email us here Or request a callback to find out how we can support you with virtual and remote learning.

 

Share your tips

Lead by example by showing your team your own home working set up. Share your tips for staying productive and encourage them to share what’s worked for them. If you have been getting involved with productivity training share the different techniques you have learned about with your team. You could even start a challenge of trying out a difference technique every day for a week to see what works best for each person.

 

Team Building

Perhaps look at which employees live within a close radius to each other and organise monthly co working day where they can use a space within your office building or a co-working hub maintaining social distancing guidelines. It will be refreshing to have a day where they can physically be around other members of their team and have an office day and do a lot for motivation.

Organise outdoor small group team building sessions while the weather permits or look to introduce team building activities that can be done virtually. Take a look at our strengths based and culture focused Facilitated Refresher Team Sessions for external support.

 

Get feedback regularly

We are on an emotional rollercoaster and our moods are often dictated by the latest news and announcements on covid19 regulations. Get a feel for how your employees are feeling about the disruption every week across the business with pulse surveys. Go one step further to find out what measures/solutions/initiatives implemented since lockdown went into effect are and are not working for them. These can help you to know when to respond, how best to support your people and quickly identify any emerging issues.

 

 

Written by Lynn Abhulimen.
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