Allowing your employees to work from home has its benefits. However, many managers who are new to the concept of working from home have concerns regarding productivity, efficiency and communication, after all, not everyone is a self-starter. Employees can also experience distractions that come with the comfort of home that could possibly lead to procrastination or delays. Those who are used to working in a physical office may feel left out of the loop or disconnected without the impromptu meetings, casual collaborations and spontaneous conversations that frequently happen in an office environment.
Disengaged employees are one of the top reasons why businesses fail, draining the company on both competitiveness and financial grounds. Perfecting communication can make a huge difference in keeping your remote employees engaged, motivated and productive. Here are five communication strategies you can adopt to keep up with the level of employee engagement even when your entire team is working from home.
Communication Strategy #1: Set up a chat system
In-team communication can take a hit once your team begins to work from home. Normally, in an office, if an employee has a question, they could simply walk to someone’s desk to discuss and get their answers quickly. That isn’t an option for employees working from home, who often depend on email responses. Furthermore, work progress could be delayed if these emails are overlooked or somehow ended up in the junk mailbox. Setting up a chat platform such as instant messengers or project management software so your team can effectively communicate on any project-related issues would do the trick. These programs also allow conversation history to be kept, making it a breeze to search for old information.
Communication Strategy #2: Arrange Regular Check-In Meetings
Another challenge for management regarding employee engagement is how to make remote employees feel like they are still part of a team, even without physical interactions or being present in the same room. Show your employees that you care about them and are willing to offer help and support because that’s what team spirit is all about. It is also essential to keep your remote employees in the loop of any updates. Plan a weekly catch-up meeting to align expectations, goals, tasks of the week, and briefs on any upcoming projects, discuss any obstacles or red flags that arise and offer help and advice on the matter. What this meeting provides is some human connection and clarity for your employees to work with.
Communication Strategy #3: Video conferencing to host meetings
Some of the perks of in-person meetings in a physical space include the ability to read body language and facial expression, pick-up non-verbal cues, and meeting someone in person makes it easier to build credibility, trust and stronger relationships. In the case that your team has to work from home, the next best thing to promote face-to-face communications is most likely video conferencing. So why not do it over a phone call? Because when you’re in a video conference, the whole team has to sit in front of the computer and really be present. If you only operate on phone meetings, you are less able to tell how focused or distracted your employee is. Not to discredit phone meetings, which are undoubtedly convenient and useful for quick discussions, there is always that possibility of your employees working on other tasks or doing laundry while speaking on the phone and you wouldn’t even know.
Communication Strategy #4: Praise more, criticize less
While it is easy to congratulate someone when the whole team works in the same space, remote employees are often overlooked. Showing appreciation for excellent work motivates your remote workers to perform better and boost employee engagement. Whether you have a partial- or fully-remote team, find a way to make the recognition visible to all team members, like sending an email or a text to your group on WhatsApp, will let your employees know you value their work.
Communication Strategy #5: Encourage chit-chats
Small chats in the pantry or conversations over lunch are opportunities to get to know your co-workers better, build personal relationships and do wonders on employee engagement. However, these interactions that build camaraderie can be limited when your business operates on a work-from-home model. As part of your communication strategy to improve employee engagement, start your weekly catch-up meeting by asking what the team has done over the weekend or what their holiday plans are to cultivate a culture of sharing and friendly conversations before easing into the business talk.
With these five communication strategies in mind, let’s look at communication tools management staff can utilize to uplift their remote team’s employee engagement level.
1. Video conferencing software
It’s clear how video conferencing software is shaping our meeting and business culture. Some of the perks include allowing us to work with a geographically-dispersed team and providing convenience and flexibility to conduct business with our portable devices anywhere in the world. Why not utilize these technologies for fun and celebrations in your virtual work environment? Yes, you absolutely can! Set up a virtual team lunch where your employees can hop on a video call and eat and chat together. Alternatively, celebrate a company milestone or the festive season by sending your team gifts and then get everyone to unwrap them during the call.
2. Instant Messengers
Having a culture of collaboration will boost employee engagement, and a truly collaborative environment is built upon the foundations of personal relationships among the team. To nurture these relationships, create a virtual collaborative platform, almost like an online conference room, for your team that works from home with instant messaging technology. On top of real-time communication, these platforms also enable real-time, online collaboration with features such as a virtual whiteboard, screen sharing for presentations, file and media transfer, and searchable messaging history. By increasing the speed of information sharing, you are also boosting overall productivity.
3. Employee Feedback Tools
The days when simply getting a paycheck on time means happy employees are long gone. Your millennial workers, for instance, are looking for much more in their job than an attractive remuneration package. Do you know which aspect of the job your employees are most satisfied with, what motivates them or what kind of challenges are they facing at work? Gaining insights into what your employees want exactly from their work experience will help you retain talents. Use employee feedback tools and hear it from your remote employees by sending out regular employee engagement surveys, conducting performance reviews and receiving feedback from them.
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25 May, 2020 - HK
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