Sustaining a Remote Culture of Engagement from Home

I know one thing is for sure. When we all return to some level of normalcy and those of us working from home return to the workplace; the way we engage and get work done will be changed. I only hope that the level of respect for those that are doing the front- line essential jobs alongside healthcare workers is celebrated as our humanity champions. I envision new ways of acknowledging and recognizing inclusion and diversity will take on dimensions we have yet to experience. 

I can also share with you that diversity officers and chief human resource officers are under enormous pressure to continuously create a remote culture of engagement and belonging. There is a special lifting those executives in the healthcare industry need, as they literally have employees in direct contact with exposed citizens. Yeah, the cliché’ is real. “we are all in it together.”

Based on the research the DMBAs 3I research institute conducts as well as our media partners share resources; I would like to share with you tips to consider when maintaining an engaged and productive remote workforce.

Leveraging technology to conduct remote meetings is our new normal. What we do know is that more than 85 percent of Fortune 1000 companies used technology approximately 20 percent of the time to engage workers, but now 100 percent of them are leveraging more than 10 technologies available to them to many of their workforce (where applicable).

v While we know leveraging technologies that allow face to face interaction for meetings is at an all-time high; it is important to build in socialization time 10 minutes prior to the opening of the meeting. It could be a simple as everyone sharing how they are or highlights of the day.

Keep meetings on time by preparing agendas and establishing the purpose and outcomes of the meeting. Share the intention and expected outcome up-front it should be the first item on the agenda.

If introductions are required, it is ok to have folks limit introductions to 1-3 minutes whichever is appropriate for the facilitator. It’s ok for the facilitator to keep the group on task as introductions are being made.

Encourage team members to keep cameras on so the illusion of community is established and real because people can physically see each other. The power of presence is real.

If you are doing a presentation and using web ex, zoom or technology always create space for interactivity such as polling, chat rooms, etc. Engage team members to respond to parts of the presentation if not present. Critical to allow everyone to have some type of voice.

Ask permission of all attendees if ok to record the meeting and be sure to share privacy and protection of information on how the recording will be used.

Employees should know they are a big part of the current sustainability of the company and understand why engagement is so vital. Talk about your guiding principals regularly and have employees share what that means to them now.

DO NOT Assume employees know what’s going on. Don’t be a micromanager but do communicate, communicate, communicate…and be consistent in your messaging from the top down. 

v Ensure meaningful one on one conversations occurs with team members. It is also important that expectations and on-time reporting are clarified with little opportunity for miscommunication or lack of understanding. Managers should also be flexible on meeting times as work at home circumstances differ for everyone.

v Be proactive about removing their roadblocks. If your team member has obstacles that prevent them from being productive, it is the manager’s responsibility to make sure they know they can be honest so you can support them.

Pay attention to signs that an employee is not cut out for being a remote team member. (For example, they may frequently turn in work late, get distracted or lose sight of the project at hand, or need frequent interaction with coworkers.) 

Resources: Impactful Online Meetings: How to Run Polished Virtual Working Sessions That Are Engaging and Effective—by Howard Tiersky; and The WOW Factor Workplace by Deb Boelkes; books available on Amazon.

Picture of Pamela McElvane
Pamela McElvane
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