It’s being expected with more employees working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic that some folks are losing their usual connection with leaders, managers, and peers.
What can you do to stay better connected with all of your employees?
Consider these suggestions if you haven’t already done so.
Schedule in Connection Time
The opportunity to converse with someone requires time and personal commitment to reach out and connect with individuals or team members. Work on the following.
- Weekly team and one-on-one meetings. Having these on the calendar gives the assurance of the desire to connect. One of you can always cancel if overwhelm with work tasks builds up. But don’t let two weeks go by without connecting with a person.
- Host virtual meet ups. Without a water cooler to talk around or a chance to sit down and have lunch together, plan to have the occasional “meetings” on the books through videoconferencing, just to chat, or enjoy your lunch and treats together.
- Townhall updates. Schedule in the infrequent organization-wide meetings where senior leaders provide status updates on the company direction. They can give an overall health review of the current strategic, business, people, and financial well-being.
Zero in on Virtual Respect
Respect is a value that takes time and consistent demonstration by one another before it is perceived as strong. Try out these steps as you connect with staff.
- Trust and being heard. Building trust comes from respecting one another and showing this consistently in your words and actions. There is no better way to show this than really listening to what employees have to say and doing something about their views.
- Meeting across time zones. Work hard with so many of your work from home staff to accommodate reasonable work schedules. Be willing to listen to a different employee’s needs and suggest give-and-take on some essential meetings.
- Keep people informed. Changes happen as in any organization. But use all the appropriate methods to communicate and be transparent on position changes and which people are furloughed, or they have adjusted work times.
Draw Upon Technology Wisely
Technology is a great equalizer for most work from home employees that allows a greater chance to connect when you no longer work face-to-face with one another. Think about these ideas.
- Getting Zoomed out. Allow people to use videoconferencing technology however they feel best. Some people want to be seen and socialize with their peers. Others are concerned with how they look, so respect their choice not to come on video.
- Set realistic boundaries. Give people permission and the authority to opt out of certain scheduled meetings or events. Let them set schedules that work best for them and their home situation. Be open with sharing the reasons why and expect others to understand.
- Recognize people online. Use your own company’s or vendor recognition platform and regularly appreciate people for who they are and recognize them for what they do. People want to know you have noticed them and that you value their contributions on the job.
Grow and Develop People.
Just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you can continue learning, growing, and developing your skills and knowledge. Why not try these suggestions out?
- Assign employees a mentor or coach. Work with senior staff people to connect with junior team members. Use any staff member, no matter the age, who has specific skills to help a colleague learn the new skills that they want to develop.
- Invite staff to online learning. Invite employees to choose courses and take assigned courses working from home no matter the learning platform you use. Make sharing of insights gained from courses and recommendations part of virtual staff meetings.
- Use collaborative online tools. Whether through shareware tools to securely send and share documentation, or collaboration tools for messaging and idea brainstorming, work from home employees need all the support you can give them to stay connected.
Keep your remote workers connected and engaged by following these recommendations.
Recognition Reflection: Do you create adequate opportunities for all employees to connect with one another?
Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.