Even before the COVID-19 pandemic forced many of us to work from home, the majority of our employees and trainers here at iPEC worked remotely from many corners of the world.
Now, in this time when working from home is not just an option, but a requirement, it’s more important than ever for your company and your leadership team to learn how to keep remote workers connected, engaged, productive, and fulfilled.
From our years of experience leading and engaging with our own team of remote workers, and training and certifying professional organization leaders as coaches, we’ve curated ten of our most helpful tactics for you.
And, spoiler alert, our recommendations go beyond “connecting on Zoom or Skype.”
While connecting virtually face-to-face is helpful, we find there’s more to it than that. Consider how you lead your team and build a great culture within your physical office space. In that environment, meetings in the boardroom are necessary, but there’s more to leadership and team connection than just meetings.
The same goes for keeping your team connected virtually, while they’re working from home.
Ideally, a remote employee is self-disciplined, needs little oversight, and can stay focused on getting the job done. You’ve probably noticed how some of your employees have enjoyed working from home and seem to prefer it over being in a physical office. But working from home is not for everyone. Some employees might feel disconnected, isolated, or lonely.
For all of your employees, regardless of how much they like or dislike their current work-from-home circumstances—communication, collaboration, and connection are vital.
One of the biggest challenges for managers is to keep remote workers connected to the rest of the team. Everyone needs to communicate and collaborate. Without the proper infrastructure in place, it will be difficult to accomplish what needs to be done.
Here are ten recommendations for keeping remote workers connected:
- Develop work schedules to accommodate all workers. Times and schedules are different now. Make sure that even with shifted priorities and a new work environment, there are consistent daily time slots that your entire team is available to interact with one another.
- Host weekly or even daily team meetings. These can be done via Zoom, Skype, Go to Meeting, as well as Google Chat and Talk to simulate a “live” meeting and enhance communications.
- Use the “Cloud” for storing files. Dropbox and GoogleDrive are great tools for sharing documents, spreadsheets, and images for a minimum investment.
- Encourage collaboration. MyClientSpot, SmartSheet, Teambox, and DeskAway can be used for project collaboration, forming workgroups, and tracking important project progress.
- Build an active community. Encourage workers to talk on the phone or in a chat feed like Google Chat or Slack instead of relying solely on e-mails. Personal contact and the back-and-forth of real-time conversation will go a long way to develop solid relationships and keep spirits high.
- Include everyone. Make sure that remote workers are on all the email distribution lists that they need to be, so they stay in the loop.
- Be clear. E-mails, instant messages, and text messages are easy to misinterpret. Call remote workers frequently to ensure that they are on-task and working toward the right goals. And don't be afraid to ask remote employees about their preferences when it comes to communications.
- Assign remote workers a mentor. Having a designated person on the team that a remote worker can go to with questions and support is a valuable resource, especially as they adapt to this new work environment.
- Provide frequent feedback. Remote workers need to know that their work is valued and appreciated. Potential issues can be avoided or eliminated if you stay in touch concerning their progress. We also recommend getting a "pulse check" from each remote worker at least on a weekly basis to measure their level of personal engagement and buy-in.
- Host virtual co-working sessions for your team. Virtual co-working sessions allow team members to log in to Zoom, Skype, or your virtual conference room software of choice and simply do their own work alongside their co-workers. This isn’t a meeting, but rather a time to be together, be productive, and feel a part of your work community again.
We at iPEC encourage you to consider how you might improve your remote workers’ lives right now by implementing one or more of the recommendations from this list.
To learn how to coach and lead your team more effectively now and far into the future, read the The Complete Guide to Improving Team Performance with Effective Leadership or speak with an iPEC Admissions Coach about enrolling in a coach training program.