Working from home has rapidly become the reality for most of us.
In 2018, about 70% of the global workforce telecommuted at least once per week. It was an emerging trend, cautiously embraced, but now the global pandemic has accelerated something that was already in motion.
Teams and companies are having to relearn the rules and invent new ways to stay productive and connected while physically apart. So how do you keep your workforce on target and feeling like a cohesive team when everyone is working remotely?
Researcher Dan Schawbel has looked at the harmful effects of long-term isolated working, and concluded that it has the potential to hinder productivity and lessen a vital sense of community—if measures aren’t put in place to mitigate these mental effects.
Having a strategy for combating loneliness and isolation will help your workforce to be happier, more loyal, and more productive.
Facilitate Human Contact
Human connections are important, and they create company loyalty. So make sure you have communication and collaboration tools in place to help your remote team feel connected to one another.
If possible, aim to arrange occasional face-to-face meet-ups with members of your team, while abiding by the appropriate social distancing guidelines. Additionally, you can schedule regular video calls over software such as Microsoft Teams in order to check-in with everyone.
Tools such as video conferencing, project management software with a collaborative aspect, and smart VoIP phone systems can maintain contact even in times when teams have to be apart.
Email and instant messaging are also really useful channels, but be mindful of over-reliance on them. They should never completely replace actual human contact, because that can create a sense of disconnect.
Support Security Measures
It’s important to ensure that all employees can work remotely safely. Internet security is a real issue for many businesses right now thanks to everyone working from home on their own Wi-Fi connections.
These personal networks are usually less secure than office ones. Whether your employees are using their own devices or company tech, make sure they are using a VPN connection for full security. Additionally, it’s wise to provide training on cybersecurity and phishing, so that team members can identify and report any threats.
These security measures will reduce the risk, and stress, of a data breach for both the employee and the business as a whole. Nobody needs that extra stress right now.
Encourage A Schedule
One of the appeals of working from home is the flexibility it gives with time. However, that can also be a big struggle for many.
For best results, you will want to make sure that your employees are working core hours. This facilitates meetings by ensuring that all staff members are present at the same time, but it can also help your employees to prevent the blurring of boundaries between working time and personal time.
When these boundaries are eroded, it can cause a lot of stress and also a lack of focus. Support your team by making it clear when you expect them to be available, but equally that you don’t expect them to be working outside of regular hours just because the office is now in their home.
Building a Unified Team
Working remotely can be more difficult for some than for others. Deliberately working to connect your remote team can help everyone feel more united, which increases efficiency, employee satisfaction, and productivity.