Keeping Employees Engaged While Working From Home

smartconnectThe Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has taken many employees working in an office and shifted them to a remote work environment.  The obvious need to slow the spread of the virus has led to government officials issuing stay-at-home orders.  As companies shift to a remote workforce, many of your workers may be facing a new normal in how they get work done and interact with their teammates.  It is important to keep in mind that we all need to keep engaging and communicating with our staff as we work across multiple locations.  Here are a few ways to keep employees engaged during this remote work revolution.

  • Video Conferencing Is A Must - Using video conferencing with webcams on gives staff the feel of an in-person meeting.  Everyone on the conference can see who is engaged in the conversation, when someone has questions and even who has checked out of the conversation.  Plus face-to-face interactions amongst team members helps foster and build relationships and allows people to collaborate on ideas.  
  • Be Flexible With Time - The reality of this COVID-19 pandemic is that everyone's lives have been upended.  Kids aren't in school and spouses are sharing home workspace.  Parents may be doing homeschooling, and other things come up that may require flexibility with work hours.  Be realistic about what employees may need in their home lives, and how it will impact their work hours.  Once everyone settles into a remote work schedule, respect employees working hours and try to avoid too many after hours demands.
  • Use Technology in Creative Ways - Without the proverbial water cooler time in the office, employees will naturally begin to feel disconnected from their colleagues.  Take the technology you have and build in some ways for these interactions to happen.  This may look like a quick team meeting to sing happy birthday to a colleague or hosting a virtual happy hour or coffee talk where staff can gather virtually.  Also, utilize your unified communications platforms and instant messaging to be able to send quick instant messages to give virtual high fives for jobs well done and to celebrate team wins.  Make meetings fun by inviting everyone to wear a crazy hat or a fun shirt.  A software package like Microsoft Teams (which is being offered free for six months right now!) is an easy way to ramp up the connectivity of your team.
  • Take a Break - Just like it's not good in the office to sit in a chair for eight hours a day, it's not good at home either.  When we're in the office, we take a few minutes to go get a cup of coffee or a snack, or to have a chat with a colleague.  Do the same at home - get up from the desk and go get some coffee.  Take a few minutes to call someone for a quick chat.  Get up and walk around the block.  Whatever it is, you have to recharge every few hours to keep working productively.
  • Everyone Isn't Always Working - When working remotely, everyone has a tendency to keep their phone or laptop within reach to check email or messages.  While this may be one person's way of staying on top of work, others like to shut it down at the end of the day.  Don't expect that employees will be always available.  Be clear in what the expectation is for responding to requests and what you will do to be responsive as well.  Communication is key.

This remote work world we were thrust into is certainly different for everyone.  It is critical to keep your staff engaged and collaborating to remain productive.  If your business is interested in learning about unified communications solutions or Microsoft Teams, our Managed IT Services group is here to help.