By Nick Devine, Director at software consultancy JS3 Global
While an SME themselves with an agile remote team, JS3 Global delivers digital transformation services to client operating in industries such as oil & gas, maritime, logistics, automotive, aerospace and manufacturing; helping hundreds of organisations globally achieve their project goals.
Nick has 20+ years’ experience leading high-performance teams – particularly in the sales and business development space.
Over the course of the pandemic, businesses have faced colossal challenges, not least putting remote working front and centre of their agenda. Equipping personnel with the tools, technology and resources required to work from home proved a scramble for many firms, affecting not just day-to-day workflows but the morale, productivity and wellbeing of valued team members.
And with no real endpoint in sight for a return to standard working practices, many businesses will be concerned about the impact remote working is having on their people. Because while some enjoy and see benefit in working from home, others feel the opposite, jeopardising their focus, morale and productivity as a result.
As a means of helping businesses in all sectors keep their employees motivated over the next few months, here we offer suggestions on how to engage and stimulate remote teams.
Virtual events and hangouts
Even in our digital age, face-to-face interaction remains a prerequisite, both in social and business settings. That’s why its absence over the last 10 months has proven to be one of the most keenly felt side effects of the pandemic, leading to a slump in wellbeing and morale for many.
Of course, there are some tactics which can be used to facilitate face-to-face interaction, including virtual meetings via now-ubiquitous platforms like Zoom and Meet. And while video conferencing is by no means a like-for-like substitution, it does go some way towards bridging the gap and enabling greater collaboration and interaction between team members.
As such, managers and business leaders should use the technology to their advantage. There are lots of ways to utilise video conferencing for engaging remote workers, including regular meetups, events, games and quizzes. A creative, fun and engaging approach to virtual meetings can help people feel connected and valued, providing the much-needed contact many are pining for.
Encourage self-care and personal growth
Trusting employees to work from home efficiently presents significant challenges for many businesses. But while ensuring you continue to reap benefit and value from personnel is important, their wellbeing and personal development is also something to keep in mind during these challenging times.
Business leaders should take a proactive approach to encouraging employee self-care and wellness. Not only will this help them to remain motivated, productive and content in their work, but will also improve their overall happiness and wellbeing – something which will reflect well on the business as a whole.
So, just what are some of the strategies you can use to promote personal wellness among remote teams? Firstly, consider their personal development and growth; is there anything you could do to make sure they have the opportunity to fulfil their aspirations and level-up skills which may be beneficial to the business?
As an example, perhaps one of your employees is seeking a promotion which requires new skills or experience; could a distance-learning course help them reach the next rung of the ladder, even in this difficult per
What’s more, it can be beneficial to allow space for more flexible working hours when your people are WFH. This affords time for day-to-day activities which can make life easier for your staff, whether that’s taking care of their little ones or getting in a mid-morning run.
Invest in the best connectivity and collaboration tools
In a normal working environment, it’s easy to take for granted the simplicity of collaborating and connecting with co-workers. Whether in a designated meeting or on a more casual lunchtime basis; remote working takes away the opportunity for spontaneous collaboration and interaction, which can be of detriment to some departments and individuals.
That’s why it’s absolutely critical that businesses invest in reliable, high-spec collaboration platforms and software for their personnel. Allowing staff to stay connected with streamlined comms, these tools ensure that collaboration and interaction are hindered as minimally as possible, even in a full-time remote working environment.
So, what should you look for when deciding on the best communication tools for your business? Firstly, an instant messaging platform can be of great benefit, allowing for real-time comms between team members. There are lots of tools out there which can facilitate this, but we’d recommend Slack for its ease of use and flexible group chat functionality.
Next, it can be extremely helpful to invest in a collaboration and project management tool. Applications such as Jira, Basecamp and Trello make it easy for remote teams to track tasks and project activity, giving key stakeholders and personnel a transparent look at ongoing work and progress.
Maintain company perks and benefit programmes
From Pizza Fridays to free on-site gym access; modern businesses understand that the perks they offer their staff not only support recruitment activity, but bring genuine value to the business in terms of employee morale and engagement.
Given the new remote working landscape, many such perks and privileges may have fallen by the wayside. But it’s important not to neglect these rewards altogether, as this could leave your personnel feeling undervalued and forgotten.
If your usual employee perks are no longer feasible, be sure to replace them with alternatives that work in a WFH setting. For example, you could liaise with a local gym to offer discounts to your staff while they’re unable to access their usual on-site facilities, or cover the cost of an at-home fitness plan for those interested.
What’s more, this is a great opportunity to boost engagement by getting everyone together for a virtual meetup. For example, if you usually end Fridays with company drinks, invite everyone to continue the tradition in a remote setting, perhaps even having a few beers delivered to their door from time to time.
With remote working here to stay, it’s crucial that employers take the right steps needed to support their personnel through this challenging period. By taking a proactive and creative approach, it is possible to ensure people feel valued and content in their work, whether that’s through regular catch-up meetings or a new approach to working hours and flexibility.