Working remotely: 5 tips to keep your teams healthy and performing well

The pandemic has forced organizations of all types to rethink how employees work. In many areas, this meant the introduction of remote and hybrid work models. While this change was necessary to meet immediate health and safety requirements, it also had unintended consequences.

Telecommuting: advantages and disadvantages

Respondents in a recent Harvey Nash Group digital leadership report agree that remote working has improved work-life balance and productivity, providing increased flexibility, less time to get to work and come back, and more time to work. On the other hand, more than half (54%) reported a decrease in the mental well-being of their technical teams.

Even as COVID restrictions increasingly ease, the tech industry still favors flexible working arrangements, both in terms of location (59%) and hours (64%) according to a Gartner survey of workers. digital workers. Therefore, technology and HR leaders need to work together to build stronger connections and promote a healthier, happier workforce in this new normal.

[ Also read Remote work exhaustion: 13 tips to reduce fatigue. ]

Here are five ways to make sure your remote employees feel connected, collaborative, and engaged:

1. Start with commitment

Look for ways to improve your team members’ emotional engagement with the organization and its mission. Start by acknowledging the high-stress times we work in and regularly thank employees for their hard work — if not in person, then with a phone call, email, or text. Consider implementing or reviving engagement initiatives such as employee recognition events, mentorship programs, volunteer projects, and e-clubs. Focus on building connections and sharing company news, especially with new hires.

Some clients have successfully onboarded and acclimated new hires through a virtual buddy system: each new hire is paired with a colleague who understands the organization and helps the new hire navigate the onboarding and transition process. It helps if this mentor can relate not only to a new hire’s work experiences, but also to their personal circumstances.

Engagement improves employee morale and reduces absenteeism. It also increases the productivity of the organization through greater job and personal life satisfaction.

2. Get more by doing less

Since the spring of 2021, according to the BLS, about 33 million Americans have voluntarily left jobs that didn’t meet their needs or align with their values. The highest quit rates were in technology and healthcare. Yet only 41% of technology leaders said their organization had relaxed rules on holidays and working hours, and only 32% said employee offerings had been redesigned to better suit working options. from a distance.

[ Read also: IT talent and the Great Resignation: 8 ways to nurture retention ]

We all play an important role in providing the tools and support needed to attract and retain people in a post-pandemic world. Trust your teams and make sure their work has meaning and is linked to measurable results. Stay in touch with employees on workload to avoid overstretch and burnout, and ensure employees understand the company’s vision and the larger purpose of their job.

Stay in touch with employees on workload to avoid overstretch and burnout, and ensure employees understand the company’s vision and the larger purpose of their job.

3. Give employees a voice

Understanding employee sentiment is always important, but in times of change, it’s crucial. Focus groups, town halls, employee surveys, and other methods of soliciting feedback can help influence business and technology decisions. Asking for employee feedback sends a positive message, but most importantly, sharing and acting on that feedback builds trust.

The shift to remote working has removed the opportunities for informal interactions that occur in hallways, during lunch breaks, and at the coffee machine. Harness ways to recreate encounters that lead to the natural exchange of thoughts and ideas. An example is hosting regular opt-in coffee or lunch conversations without an agenda.

Also take the time to proactively speak one-on-one to give employees the opportunity to share their feedback in a smaller setting. This makes it easier for some employees to speak up and know that they are being heard by leaders.

4. Lead by example

Being purposeful in your actions and your narrative is important to motivating employees and creating an inclusive environment. Start with a personal connection by encouraging conversations on camera. Send an agenda in advance to allow participants to collect their ideas. Varying the presenters and inviting everyone to share at least once gets more people into the conversation.

[ Read also: 5 tips to prevent IT team burnout ]

Look for ways to engage with team members and build rapport with them by sharing personal bonds and accepting unexpected interruptions from pets and children, for example. Break the habit of interacting the same way every day.

5. Be mindful of work-life balance

With remote work, the lines between work and life are often blurred. It’s important to check in often on how people are feeling. Encourage co-workers to step away from their computers for a walk, download a mindfulness app, or eat lunch outside or in another room. Consider coordinating a virtual fitness class or suggest employees take a break to take care of themselves.

Learn more about remote and hybrid working

This is another opportunity to lead by example. A client regularly includes downtime activities in her schedule so that other employees feel comfortable doing the same. Another encourages employees to work in a new location, even in a different country if possible, for a few weeks at a time.

Thoughtful action now can help leaders and teams build healthy habits and strengthen relationships, which creates an inclusive culture where everyone wants to work, no matter where they are.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

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