Contactless Employee Engagement in Remote Working
Whether we are managing an entirely remote team or we are supervising a hybrid of remote and in-house employees, we are concerned about the challenge of engagement and ensuring that all our remote employees remain emotionally connected with the overall organization. In an organization’s ecosystem, this remote team would comprise not only of permanent employees but also the “gig workers” who are engaged with the organization on specific projects/assignments.
Remote employees don’t need to work the traditional 9-to-5 workday. Rather, remote work enables people to better align their work and private life.
“Since not all employees will have the same daily schedule, clear communication is needed within teams to ensure everyone understands the culture, how to work together, and how to help one another within working hours.”
Individuals also need to clearly communicate their availability to the team. You don’t need to replicate in-person office interactions with remote employees. But to keep them happy and engaged, we need to show remote employees respect and consideration, have meaningful communication, and actively listen to their needs. Collecting continuous, real-time employee feedback is the best way to improve the remote employee experience.
Elements that would ensure that a remote organization or teamwork effectively are as follows:
Whatever the future holds, success in navigating this transition depends on developing an employee experience that enables remote working. Organizations will be adopting a hybrid model of operations – “Physical” & “Digital” – and therefore creating an employee experience ecosystem that caters to both the models while retaining the level of engagement of the employees would be extremely critical. So, what kind of employee experience will enable enterprises to build remote working strategies that support the different variations of remote working? Some of the strategic initiatives organizations are likely to consider and implement are as follows:
- Trust: Organizations would have to make an extra effort to create a culture of trust that work gets done despite the place or time. The days of in-person monitoring and supervision would be gone – that would be replaced by a style of supervision that has to be built on mutual respect and trust. The organizations would have to invest in making their managers/supervisors unlearn and learn the new styles of managing people performance.
- Popularize and Practice Video Conferencing: Seeing our colleagues faces and their reactions are critical for energetic collaboration and team-building, and so thousands of companies have started using high definition video conferencing on different digital platforms in response to work-from-home mandates.
- Create Clear Communication Channels: Everyone knows what, where, and when to communicate on which topics. Everyone knows when an answer is not expected—understanding when the workday starts and ends—and that people do not need to be available at all times. Both for official and unofficial communication, the channels for feedback should be clearly earmarked and shared with the employees so that there is communication conflict.
- Roles, Responsibilities, Organization Goals& the PMS Rhythm: The leadership of the organization needs to reduce friction wherever possible that can occur when working from home and office and make the transition as seamless as possible. Since the organizations are likely to operate in a hybrid model of both physical and digital, it is extremely critical that the goals of the individual members of a team is interconnected and interdependent. The importance of goals being SMART will never be more critical than ever before. The Performance Management System has to adopt a regular real-time rhythm of feedback rather than at fixed defined intervals.
- Working Infrastructure: When a large number of employees would be required from home on a remote working mode it becomes imperative for an organization to equip and set-up the tools, connections, a place to work at home. This may mean moving over to cloud-based processes, improving communication and perhaps even absorbing the costs surrounding creating a home office space such as hardware, software, and associated costs that used to be rolled into the physical office space.
- Focus on Mental Health: Mental health of employees will assume paramount importance in an environment of remote working. For many, breaking away to go to a physical workspace was actually part of a healthy mental routine. So, providing gym memberships to employees when this is a safe resource in their residential area or providing wellness resources in the form of webinars may be in order. If this requirement to work from home has made us sensitive about hen it’s not just about having the right bodies in the right seats, but more importantly, making sure the mindset of our team also remains healthy.
- Maintain Corridor/ Vending Machine Conversations: The coronavirus has changed how we define a “normal” day in the office and hence it has become imperative to keep the social interactions/informal conversations going. Even though employees are working remotely, there still need to be opportunities to interact outside of traditional meetings. There is a feeling of social isolation that is creeping into the employees. Companies are being forced to think about how to sustain the social needs of an employee. Corporations would have to create informal platforms/forums and provide opportunities where employees can catch-up on subjects of mutual interests beyond work and stay connected socially.
- Boost Internal Communications: Internal communication is critical to an enterprise employee experience. It’s the foundation of the experience employees have within the organization, whether they’re working on-site or remotely. Spending time making sure all employees understand what is going on at the company and what is expected of them will improve their experience, especially when everyone is online. Regular communication sessions by the managers coupled with an informative intranet build the communication bridges across the organization. Publication of E-Newsletter / focused communication fliers will assume greater importance in this remote working era.
- Invest in Virtual/Digital Training- Virtual Instructor-Led Training / Online Training would hold the center-stage of the capability building process of the organizations. Enterprises will have to re-visit their strategies on designing & developing training content, training delivery mechanisms with a focus on how best they can leverage the digital platform to meet their strategic intent. Robust Learning Management platforms will have to be invested upon. While the organizations would focus on creating the learning infrastructure, the employees on their side would have to demonstrate higher levels of commitment and invest more in terms of honest effort in their self-development process.
- Celebration of Successes & Milestones: Recognizing special efforts and contribution of employees, the celebration of employees’ birthdays, anniversaries with the company, welcoming of new employees, and other personal milestones like marriage or birth of a child, by giving shout-outs on companywide emails or customized communication mailers.
While most of the organizations are introducing the changes in their people management processes, as a reaction to COVID-19 but they have all accelerated their efforts of re-organizing and recalibrating their engagement strategies in order to sustain the productivity of their employees in the face of ever increasingly compounding business challenges which they are being confronted with every day.