What’s the Best Way to Engage Your Virtual Team?wphungerford
The benefits of remote workplaces are clear to just about every worker and manager: more flexibility, lower overhead and more personal freedom. However, remote work brings its own set of similarly well-known challenges — especially an increased risk of isolation and disconnection. In fact, the single greatest struggle remote employees experience is loneliness, according to a survey of remote workers from Buffer, tied with communication and collaboration.
That said, keeping a thriving culture in the face of these challenges is far from impossible. Many of the same principals co-located employers use to maintain a happy and healthy workplace apply to remote workers as well. Read on to learn three key ways to keep remote workers from feeling the geographical distance that separates them.
1. Connect New Hires With a Buddy
Each workplace is filled with unwritten rules, expectations and years of hard-won knowledge. The sum total of this hidden knowledge can be downright terrifying to a new hire.
That’s why we recommend instituting a new-hire buddy system. Here, recent hires are paired with a veteran team member who will listen, share knowledge, and offer encouragement when needed.
In a pilot new hire buddy program at Microsoft, they found their buddy significantly boosted productivity. They also found that the more times they met within their first 90 days, the more likely they were to report that their buddy helped them become more productive.
Approximately 56% of those who met only once indicated as such, which increased to 73% for those who met two times and a whopping 97% percent for those who met more than eight times.
2. Foster Personal Connections Thoughtfully in Remote Workplaces
Staving off isolation and disengagement requires employees to address another challenger of remote workplaces: fostering personal relationships.
Since there’s no shared physical space to casually interact, joke around, invite others to lunch or play a friendly game of ping pong, time and resources must be set aside to allow for meaningful personal connections.
That goes for employer-employee relationships as well as supervisor-employee relationships.
For the former, set time aside to plan virtual activities that promote bonding and stress release.
One company, for instance, encouraged employees to film tours of their living spaces in the style of MTV Cribs. You can also plan show-and-tell events, host live video hangouts and create chat rooms for various non-work related topics, like movies, pet photos and shared hobbies.
3. Dedicate Time to Show Workers That They’re Known and Valued
Employees need to know that their boss cares — about their work, their passions and their well-being.
For managers in remote companies, this means doing a little extra work to maintain a personal connection and help them feel valued.
Make sure your relationship goes beyond periodic check-ins during web meetings. Take an interest in their interests; talk about something beyond work.
And keep them included by sharing leadership responsibilities from time to time, for example, by giving them responsibility for special projects or encouraging them to mentor other team members.
They’re Always One Phone Call (Or Text, Video Call Or Email) Away
Remote work can be a fulfilling and valuable experience for everyone involved. And while distance, time and culture may divide you, authentic human connection is a more-than-capable bridge.
Hungerford Technologies can help bridge that gap; we help companies deploy the leading enterprise video conferencing solution, Cisco Webex. We offer easy-to-use, cloud-based phone and video conferencing for remote teams — starting at $25 per user per month. Contact our IT advisors to learn more.