Remote work is a part of everyone’s lives now that we’ve lived through a pandemic. Now, we’re lucky enough to have the technology to successfully execute a remote work environment from our homes. Like it or not, remote work is here to stay. Knowing that, leaders need to create strategies for the use of technology that brings people together, rather than causing further isolation.
How can we use technology to build strong work relationships that make others feel included?
Don’t be afraid to go off-script
If you can’t get someone into the office for an interview, do what you can to make them feel welcome and turn your camera on, make eye contact – yes, even through the screen – be personable, and don’t be so attached to a script. An interview is the first impression. It strongly determines how you feel about someone, and how someone feels about you, so make every effort to give them the chance to feel comfortable in this remote setting.
How can we help our employees start feeling productive again and like their work means something, even from home?
In addition to operational goals, set tangible goals around psychological safety
Amy C. Edmondson and Mark Mortensen in the April 2021 HBR said, “When it comes to psychological safety, managers have traditionally focused on enabling candor and dissent with respect to work content. The problem is, as the boundary between work and life becomes increasingly blurry, managers must make staffing, scheduling, and coordination decisions that take into account employees’ personal circumstances — a categorically different domain.”
Change is hard for all of us. Too often I work with managers who are unaware of how the change is affecting them. It’s hard to see it in others when you can’t see the trait within yourself.
For every one of my clients, I always start with the advice to know yourself first. How are you reacting, and then explore how others might react. Write up to 3 goals to reduce the feelings of overwhelm and burnout for yourself, then talk with your team about what you’re doing to stay centered and reduce overwhelm.
Managing performance when you aren’t there to monitor what’s going on can be another difficulty resulting from a remote environment. To start off, trust is key in the workplace. Leaders need to make sure their employees trust them to have their best interest in mind, and that will drive better performance and productivity from home. Instead of micromanaging what your team is doing, try focusing on creating shared understanding and shared expectations for outcomes.
“If you want them to take ownership of the work, then be clear on the outcome you expect. Anything else causes confusion, demotivates, and disheartens your people. Over time, it creates so much frustration because of the rework and expense of time, effort, and attention that you’ll see people do the bare minimum if they stay and good people leave.”
Think about the human side of technology. Laugh when kids run through the background or make a joke when a cat walks across the screen. None of us are perfect, especially as we try to balance work and home life in the same space.
I know … It’s easier said than done. However success is dependent upon you making your actions intentional, your decisions deliberate, and your behavior mindful. With a little bit of planning, technology can be a tool that brings your team together, even when you’re separated geographically.
Check out these resources to learn more about making hybrid work for your team:
Closing the Gap Podcast: What working in global organizations can teach us about hybrid work
Closing the Gap Podcast:How do we move past our baggage around change?