Aug 03

Remote Work Can Be Isolating for Employees. Here’s How You Can Help.

I’m very much an introvert. I mean, come on, I’ve been working remotely for years and I actually enjoy the solitude.

But even I can admit that prolonged isolation can be taxing. We are human beings, after all, and we rely on non-verbal cues to communicate more than we realize. All those periodic check-ins and casual elevator updates about what you did over the weekend actually do contribute to a healthy company culture. Such interactions help build camaraderie among employees, and talking face-to-face helps us to exercise empathy.

And while Zoom helps, it’s far from a long-term substitute and can be harder on our brains than we realize.

So, since this unprecedented situation in our workplaces is far from over, (no thanks to the covid-19 pandemic) what can we do to keep our employees engaged and productive?

1.) Check in with your workers briefly but frequently.

Check in with your workers briefly but frequently

Those everyday smiles and chitchats help build trust among colleagues. In the absence of such, short and frequent check-ins will have to do. Failure to communicate consistently risks disengagement among workers and a lack of productivity.

Daily, ten-minute chats with your team should do the trick. If you’ve got independent workers, quick one-on-ones at the start or end of their work day would also work.

What should you ask about? First, ask about how they’re doing. Secondly, you can ask about what their biggest challenge is when it comes to working remotely. Most importantly, don’t forget to inquire about what you can do to help, if needed.

2.) Make allowances for possible adjustments in performance.

Make allowances for possible adjustments in performance.

Not everyone thrives in a work from home set-up. Some will miss everyday office interactions. A handful might not have the ideal environment from remote work. You can bet that these will have an impact on their performance.

So, rather than sending them a memo right away, engage them in conversation. “Let’s talk about how you’re doing and figure out how we can resolve any issues you might be having” is a good start.

3.) Resist the urge to be “all business.”

Resist the urge to be “all business.”

While virtual teams often pride themselves on getting down to the work with almost zero social preamble, resist the urge to go without the latter entirely. Now is the time to lead with candor and compassion. For instance, be more forgiving if a colleague’s child wanders onto the screen or their dog suddenly starts barking during a virtual meeting.

Constant, real-time human feedback also makes for happier workers, so make time to provide that.

4.) Be creative with team bonding activities.

Be creative with team bonding activities.

Speaking of happier workers, I realize you can’t gather for happy hour like you used to, but a little creativity helps. Team building activities build trust among team members, and those who participate are more likely to help each other. Stronger bonds also often translate to higher productivity and employee retention.

Some of the more common virtual options include:

  • Pizza parties (sponsored by the company);
  • Sharing playlists on the company instant chat thread;
  • Zoom games.

5.) Allow for conflict.

Allow for conflict.

Conflict can look different in the absence of face-to-face interactions. When this inevitably occurs, look at how each of your employees react? Which ones get defensive? Combative? How about those who gently disagree? Is there anyone who appears to avoid conflict at all costs?

This awareness will help you handle your team better when disagreements arise, especially since you won’t be able to smooth ruffled feathers in person anytime soon.

With Remote Staff’s proprietary technology and systems, getting and remaining in touch with your remote team is a cinch. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Serena Estrella

About The Author

Serena has been working remotely and writing content for the better part of the last decade. To date, she's written for Pepper.ph and Mabuhay Magazine, among others, and has churned out more than a thousand articles on everything from The Basics of Stock Market Investing to How to Make Milk Tea-Flavored Taho at home. Hermits, aspiring hermits, and non-hermits with interesting project propositions may email her at serena.estrella10@gmail.com.

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