Say goodbye to the handshake. A friendly hug? No way.

If you’re working in a role where you regularly connect in person with other humans, removing that connection seems unnatural. But with the COVID-19 outbreak and countless other varieties of flu currently threatening our communal spaces, more of us are staying away from each another – either through a mandate to stay home or by choice (aka “social distancing”). The workplace is no exception.

For some organizations, remote working environments are uncharted territory – leading to the question, “Once our employees have settled into working from their remote spaces, what comes next?”

Working from home may be a dream come true for some employees – providing a quiet space that allows for more productivity and fewer interruptions. For others, working from home is isolating and lonely, especially if it means several weeks away from the office without seeing coworkers. Not everyone is mentally equipped to handle a remote work environment.

Are there ways to engage remote employees, regardless of comfort level, and promote the team camaraderie that many employees crave?

Yes, there are. Here are a few ideas to share with your team:

  1. Over-communicate. This may seem obvious, but sometimes people get so busy they forget to stay in touch throughout the day. Communicate information, both big and small. And remember, small talk still matters, even if it’s through email or chat programs.
  2. Embrace video. Face-to-face meetings are more important than ever right now so try to add videoconferences or video chats to the mix. And whenever you have virtual meetings, ask for feedback to keep everyone engaged.
  3. Keep the rewards and recognition coming. Rewarding positive behavior is one of the best ways to keep your employees motivated and connected.
  4. Be clear about expectations. Share information about productivity expectations, preferred methods for contacting managers, and discussions about schedules and working hours.
  5. Introduce a remote contest. Keep your company culture alive by having your team snap a few pictures from home that can be submitted for a contest. Themes could include matching the coworker to their home desk, pet or coffee cup. Publish the photos and results in your next newsletter or on your intranet.

Until the spread of the COVID-19 is under control (and perhaps even after), remote work situations are likely here to stay. It’s a whole new kind of workplace for some of us (and maybe a bit scary); for others, it’s just business as usual.

Regardless of comfort level, we’re all in this together. Let’s continue to come up with new, innovative ways to engage employees who are in remote locations and make the best of this ongoing, ever-changing situation.

If you’re looking for guidance on how to keep your employees’ mental and physical well-being at the forefront, including EAP and telemedicine options, contact Apex HR Consultant Brooke Salazar, JD, PHR for more information.

 

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Brooke Salazar

Authored By

Brooke Salazar, JD, PHR

HR Consultant, Apex Associate Counsel
Meet Brooke