Virtual work has its benefits and drawbacks and can be especially challenging during a pandemic. If your company is like many others, you may have had to make the switch to remote work almost overnight. Such a rapid transition allowed little time for planning and preparation — both for employers and employees. And, after a number of months working remotely, a significant number of employees may only now be adjusting to their new normal.
As a leader, how can you take it a step further to ensure that employees don’t just adjust to working in a remote setting, but also feel engaged? Here are a few ideas to help ramp up the engagement factor with your virtual teams.
Check in frequently. Make time to check in with your remote workers regularly, both through one-on-one meetings that address individual perspectives and concerns as well as team meetings. Scheduling time together consistently to share ideas, challenges and updates creates deeper connections and enhances appreciation. And maintaining a view into how their daily work contributes to team and company goals can help make their individual efforts feel more meaningful.
Provide constructive feedback. When employees don’t receive feedback about their work, they also don’t have a gauge to understand what they’re doing well and where they may need to improve. That can leave them feeling rudderless. At the same time, the feedback needs to be supportive and effective. By starting and ending with comments about what they do well — and including an idea for what they might do better in between — you’re more likely to leave employees feeling empowered rather than criticized.
Make communication easy. Use the right tools, via an intranet or other chat programs, to help your team communicate often and regularly. Select tools that facilitate communication and enhance efficiency without creating a significant learning curve — or introducing too many additional tasks for them to keep up with. Allowing for more “watercooler moments” can help employees feel more engaged and in the loop with their colleagues.
Encourage virtual get togethers. Initially it may not feel the same as an in-person gathering, but connections can indeed be made and enhanced virtually. Meet often to celebrate work wins and personal goals, or simply to connect with your team and other coworkers. Virtual social engagements can bring teams closer in despite the physical distance.
With the right technology and consistent intention, working from home can also mean working connected. With your ingenuity, patience and persistence as a leader, your virtual team can likely work together as smoothly and effectively online as they do in person.
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