5 Best Practices for a Connected Virtual Workforce
Over the last two years, most of us have had to adapt quickly after being dropped into our remote workplaces, which are often our living rooms, bedrooms, or kitchens. And we’ve normalized and adapted to those solo workdays quickly. As we creep steadily into our third year of working from home, it’s important to reevaluate the practices we use each day.
Work-from-home practices over the last two years have caused many of us to be siloed and isolated at our desks, even as we worked with dozens of people toward common professional goals. As we move from adaptation, which is a reactive response to the sudden shift to working remotely, to thriving in this new environment, you can become a proactive leader by implementing best practices in the new normal.
In the webinar Inspiring Connections, Care, and Collaboration on Remote & Hybrid Teams, host Mika J. Cross helps unearth the top five tips for keeping your teams collaborative, caring, and connected in their remote or hybrid work environments.
Tip One: Show Your Support
Support your employees, and show that support! On average, Cross says 18 percent of employees do not have support outside the workplace, and she has seen workplaces where that is true for up to 35% of the workforce. Showing such empathy and caring is difficult, but just like any other skill, it is teachable. We can teach people how to show care. There needs to be a new re-skilling, new reeducation in emotional intelligence. By showing and developing rapport with employees and coworkers, we can bring the human element back to work.
Tip Two: Build from Engagement
A person is most engaged when you hire them. Ensure that you build from there, working with them when they’re at their highest energy and keeping them motivated and connected. Part of this includes having clear discussions and having 30-, 60-, and 90-day check-ins. Building from engagement will also build a foundation for an engaged employee, and as you apply the practice again and again, it will lead to a connected and enthusiastic workforce.
Tip Three: Build Connectivity into the Workday
It’s important to recognize that connections don’t just happen outside the workplace, at happy hours, or during after-work chats. Most connections forged in in-person workplaces begin during hours: at the water cooler, with pass-by compliments, through team-building activities. After all, the goal is to develop an effective working team. Ways to help strengthen connections with teams are to organize team-building activities that occur during the workday—make it clear that connecting is inseparable from working. Virtual activities, such as guided painting, DIY projects, or activities that can be coordinated from afar are great ideas to help develop a team’s connections—especially if they can speak to one another and ask for help and feedback as they are doing it!
Tip Four: “See” Your Employees
Don’t forget that behind the Zoom calls and Teams meetings are people sitting at their desks, listening in and sharing. In an in-person environment, appreciative body language and after-meeting comments are easy to share. However, it’s important to not take a blank screen for an empty room and to make sure to acknowledge each person in the room. Ways to do this are to greet each person as they enter a meeting, acknowledge them by name, remember who they are, and validate their points as they speak. As you close out meetings, also thank them for their points individually. Make sure that individuals feel seen, heard, and appreciated.
Tip Five: Be Inclusive of Circumstances
Not everyone has access to the same kind of working environment. Make sure you are aware of where and how your employees are working, and make sure they have the right tools to succeed. Make sure everyone has access to the technology they need and the knowledge to maximize that technology to its best functionality. Identify and provide the training that everyone might need to use their resources in creative ways.
Bonus Tip: Take a Class!
While there are plenty of courses to pick from, we recommend doing your research. As a leader, you must be discerning in your approach to tackling the challenge of building a connected team, or simply creating connections within your existing team. Check out our course Managing Virtual Teams as a starting point!
With these five best practices, you can embrace the new normal with grace and forge stronger connections with each employee for an enthusiastic and connected workforce. Want to learn more about going From Remote to Connected? Sign up for our upcoming webinars here.
Jhanvi Ramaiya is the Content Marketing Manager at Management Concepts. An expert writer and content creator, she received her Bachelors in Sociology from Gettysburg College, and her Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing, Nonfiction at George Mason University.
Good tips. This information is very helpful and informative. Here’s something else. There are some people on a team who tend to be wallflowers during meetings, and they are often invisible. Those employees are doubly invisible while working from home. It’s important for managers to take extra steps to help keep those invisible employees engaged during Skype or Microsoft Teams meetings, as well as when those online meetings have concluded. Employees who feel they don’t matter will likely give less of themselves and may find they aren’t happy at work and leave the organization. That’s sort of what Tip Five speaks to, but expanded. Being inclusive of those workers will mean the world to them and to the team’s accomplishments.