Remote working in pandemic times is encouraged, as it is a solution for flattening the coronavirus curve, as well as protecting our most vulnerable peers.
We, at VON Consulting, are an IT recruitment agency operating in 3 cities in Romania, as well as in Germany and the United States, and we’ve encouraged remote working for its fair share of benefits.
Remote working in pandemic times – pros and cons
What is the first benefit that we’ve identified? Working from home these days saves time and money on commutes.
Another benefit? For some of our tech talent and team members, remote working led to a better work-life balance.
On the other hand, for some of our colleagues remote working blurred the lines between workspace and home space.
Not being in the office with the team caused a feeling of less engagement and connectivity for other colleagues.
Your company might at some point experience the upside, as well as downside to remote working.
In order not to affect productivity and performance, remote working needs to go hand in hand with employee engagement.
And for the latter, we have some tips & tricks, which we believe you’ll find useful.
Tips for improving employee engagement when remote working in pandemic times
Step 1: Measure what you want to accomplish in accordance with your team
Engagement can mean different things to different people. Things going on at their home differently distract every employee – be it kids, chores, housemates or roommates, social media, radio, TV, etcetera. So the best way we, as a recruitment agency, recommend to gauge employees’ engagement levels is by simply asking them about their work and their passion levels. Obviously, at the same time, as an employer you should monitor progress on assignments. Also, you should confront any concerns you might have about a team member’s performance.
Step 2: Make e-meetings a place for casual hangouts as well
During the working day we’re sure you keep in touch through video calls, instant messaging, e-mail and web conferencing platforms. It’s also important to plan out virtual get-togethers for non-work-related chats. The idea is to let off the steam of tense work-related conversations. Try coffee e-meetings at least once a week; also, engage your employees by also encouraging them to propose other types of informal virtual meets. Who knows, maybe celebrity trivia night will become a regular calendar fix-up after all.
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Step 3: Leave your virtual door open
Appreciation should go beyond borders – and it often doesn’t need grand gestures. Is it someone’s birthday? Send them a virtual gift card. Did a team member go above and beyond on an assignment? Schedule a team call to recognize their efforts. Moreover, team leaders should make sure to leave their (virtual) door always open. Miscommunications are common between remote working teams. The last thing you want is for your employees to feel like they can’t talk to their supervisors, ask questions or voice concerns. Encourage one-to-one meetings as well, try to listen and voice solutions rather than concerns or critiques.
Step 4: Foster individual connections, not one-size-fits-all communication
It’s totally understandable why managers and team leaders would want to keep things professional. However the work from home landscape can be tricky. Keep in mind that team members are still human. They have loved ones, celebrations and bad days like everyone else. As an employer, you need to recognize their strengths, weaknesses and interests to better connect with them. Sending information based on the circumstances of the individual is a better way to get a person’s attention.
Step 5: A competitive team that works together stays together
Have you heard of gamification? It’s actually the practice in which game-playing elements are introduced in nongame environments. More and more companies have resorted to this tactic to encourage customer loyalty and engagement.
Team-based goals and competitions enhance collaboration and cooperation, as members strive towards a common objective.
What’s more, game-based performance management systems can also help standardize performance metrics and evaluation criteria.
So, to sum up, with the right attitude, empathy and a team-centric approach, remote working doesn’t need to be a hurdle. Remote working can act as a catalyst, if handled in accordance with your team’s needs.