Contributed by Sam Hill, head of people and culture at BizSpace.
With British employees back to working from home during the second lockdown in 2020, businesses once again face the challenge of employees being split across locations.
Although technology has permitted teams to stay connected over the past few months, this lockdown presents a second obstacle, as employees battle with the anxiety and worry which this lockdown brings. Teams typically speak less frequently when working remotely, so small businesses must ensure that their employees do not feel isolated and that they stay connected whilst working remotely in this period.
Even for small businesses with just a few members of staff, employees need to feel valued and connected to other members of their team. How do you help your staff avoid isolation while split working?
1. Take advantage of technology
By now, many employees feel exhausted by video calls. Even so, it is imperative that businesses continue to use technology to connect their teams.
Within small businesses, it’s easy to dismiss daily or weekly video calls if there is not much of an update to provide to the team. However, doing so can add to the feeling of isolation for remote working employees.
Continue to host daily or weekly team meetings via video conferencing, where employees can catch up and share what they are working on. This will ensure all employees continue to build connections and celebrate their achievements.
2. Encourage team work wherever possible
It’s easy for employees working in separate locations to feel detached and lonely. To resolve this, encourage teamwork wherever possible. Encourage the group to solve issues together and meet targets in a more efficient and effective manner.
Employees working remotely often struggle to speak up when they face challenges since they cannot turn to the desk next to them for quick advice. Teamwork combats this issue, with employees connecting to their peers and opening the door to new lines of communication.
3. Reinforce your company culture
As a leader, make sure you are proactive in nurturing and reinforcing the company culture, since healthy company cultures have a direct impact on the performance of teams.
Take the time to reinforce the organizations’ vision and values to employees. This approach not only helps your team feel connected to the larger picture, but it can reenforce loyalty and calm. Keep lines of communciatoin open relating to shifts in goals.
Uncertainty is detrimental to the morale of a team, so any communication should be as clear and certain as possible.
4. Introduce lunch and learns
Regardless of the size of a business, lunch and learn sessions are a great way to ensure employees are actively engaging with each other and the company. These talks are typically informal. They offer employees opportunities to deliver talks on a variety of topics, ask questions and build community.
For employees working remotely, this is a perfect way to ensure they are still able to engage in training, with video and audio conferencing opening up the ability for remote workers to tune in wherever they are.
5. Don’t dismiss virtual social events
Although the use of Zoom quizzes and calls quickly became tiresome for many employees during the national lockdown, the use of virtual social events should not be dismissed.
For employees working remotely, these social events are a direct replacement for the usual social events and informal drinks after work which they would have otherwise attended.
Social events are an easy way to create natural conversation opportunities and bring employees together on a far more personal level. They also contribute to the success of the business by boosting morale, which can increase productivity and satisfaction in teams.
This, in turn, can boost the company culture as employees feel a higher sense of loyalty to the organisation, even from their remote locations.
Contributed by Samantha Hill, head of people and culture at BizSpace.