Engaging with each other aids with working remotely
This article was originally published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on April 14, 2020
In my March Tech View column, I wrote about remote work options, such as virtual private network, remote desktop services and cloud-based solutions. This month I’d like to focus on how to keep employees engaged while they are working from home.
Keeping employees engaged and feeling appreciated can be a challenge when we’re sitting in the same office so it’s even harder when team members are hunkered down in their respective homes. Sometimes the technology that makes us more efficient by automating certain tasks can do so at the expense of human engagement and right now, that is not something we can spare. It is critical that as leaders, we support our teams and remind them that while we might not be sitting 15 feet from each other anymore, we are still in this together.
Some tips for remote worker engagement:
- Communicate constantly. Instead of emailing or texting, call or schedule video chats with your employees. We need all the face-to-face time we can get right now. Video conferencing tools like MS Teams, Skype for Business and WebEx make ad-hoc video chats easier than ever. Even if these calls take a little more time, we are saving time by not having to commute to the office.
- Consider implementing employee engagement software to keep an eye on morale and provide a place for employees to give kudos to their teammates and feedback to their leaders. Now, more than ever, employees need to feel appreciated and supported, and have a place to express concerns and ask questions. Some subscription-based engagement tools like CrewHu and TINYpulse come with lots of bells and whistles. There are also free platforms like Survey Monkey that provide the basic ability to collect anonymous feedback.
- Schedule one-on-one meetings with each of your team members and ask thoughtful questions. How is work at home affecting them? How is their family? Productivity at work comes second to the security of a person’s family. Be aware of their concerns and help address them with suggestions and resources and you will get the best out of your team.
- If your company has an intranet or employee portal, keep it updated with information and resources and encourage employees to utilize it. If you don’t have one, you can use SharePoint or a similar platform to build a corporate communications site so your team has access to information they need in one easily accessible place online.
- Dedicate time to be social. I’m usually the first one to say, “Hey, let’s end this meeting early and get back to work!” but in times like this, it’s important to give people the opportunity to socialize. Start your meetings with catch up time or leave your video sessions open after meetings to let people chat about life or show off their cats who undoubtedly walked by during the call. Host a digital happy hour at the end of the day and encourage your team members to grab their drink of choice and chat with each other over your video system.
- Be transparent and vulnerable. We are working through a time of uncertainty that most of us have never dealt with before so it’s okay that we don’t have all the answers. Be honest with your employees and provide channels for open communication and questions. We will all make it through this together.
Jordan Silva is senior manager of consulting services operations at CBTS. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.