Engagement & Wellbeing: How to Keep Teams Thriving While Working Remotely
Aside from the technology considerations associated with telecommuting arrangements, offering employees the opportunity to work remotely comes with a chance for team leaders to create a positive virtual culture centered on employee wellbeing. As with traditional workplace environments, team leaders who put their focus on communicating and building connections with their teammates will cultivate greater engagement and productivity. They will also notice an increased willingness to go the extra mile from their remote workers, and see the related impact on other organizational outcomes.
The following are some practices to help keep your teams thriving while working away from the office. Make sure to also check out our 3-part on-demand webinar series - it covers all aspects of navigating remote work during COVID-19.
When workers are away from a central hub of information, like in a typical physical workplace, they can start to feel isolated, vulnerable, and even anxious. Identifying structured lines of communication where teammates know what to expect can bridge the communication gap of remote work. Consider issues that are top of mind for your employees. Do they know who to contact to address various needs and who to look for to receive updates and support?
In addition, scheduling (and keeping) regular team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, etc. can offer predictability and reassurance that can allow remote workers to thrive. While the adage “don’t hold a meeting that could have been an e-mail,” may have merit in the physical workplace, in the world of remote work and even in the absence of an agenda, virtual meetings can be used to foster relationships and a sense of teamwork.
Promote a Culture of Trust and Wellbeing
Often times, remote workers report feeling a sense of guilt about tending to personal wellbeing while working from home, yet, doing so can have a significant positive affect on their physical and emotional wellbeing and productivity. E encouraging remote workers to take care of themselves by building in breaks, while still using their professional judgement ,can remove the barrier of worry so that your teammates can tend to their needs and come back to work as their best selves.
Foster a Sense of Purpose and Connectedness
Finding opportunities to feel valued, seen, and connected to the organization’s mission is all the more important for remote workers who are not seeing their manager or teammates in person, regularly. Team leaders who make a concerted, frequent effort to reach out, respond, and provide feedback and praise will promote a sense of security, appreciation, and belongingness that can help remote employees thrive. Consider regularly asking team members what you can do to make their jobs better or to support their needs. Give weekly props and shout-outs to praise individuals on a job well done, and let your team members know that you appreciate their efforts. In addition, practicing grace, empathy, and flexibility can help employees feel cared for and supported as individuals, especially during challenging times.
Plan Virtual Social Time
With no inherent opportunities for remote workers to connect at water coolers, grab coffee or lunch, or have an impromptu happy hour, team leaders who help facilitate and promote virtual social opportunities can protect teammates from feeling isolated. Having friendships at work is critical to employees’ feelings of connectedness to and engagement in their jobs. To help enhance social wellbeing amongst remote workers, consider hosting optional virtual coffee breaks, buddy check-ins, social media groups, or book clubs to provide employees the opportunity to connect personally and have fun.
In summary, organizations that expand their workplace to promote telecommuting can be faced with challenges to keep their teammates feeling connected. However, with a focus on fostering trust and vulnerability, along with clear expectations and strong communication modalities, virtual workers will thrive.