“Are you still there?”
“Hello? Can you hear me?”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The coronavirus crisis has made the video calling glitch ubiquitous in our lives. Whereas before we were used to meeting with our colleagues face to face, now, many workers are subjected to hours in front of their computers, dealing with technological gaffes ranging from poor connections to getting a little bit too distracted by your own image in the top right-hand corner.
Certainly, working from home comes with its challenges and not all of them are technological; during the lockdown, child care has been an issue for many as schools up and down the country remain closed. This means lots of people are having to juggle work and homeschooling, switching from emails to maths homework from one minute to the next.
However, the increasing prevalence of homeworking isn’t necessarily negative. According to a 2015 study by the Association of Psychological science, communicating technologically made employees happier and more productive. This was largely because they appreciated the greater flexibility and the chance to demonstrate they were self-motivated.
As with all of our relationships over the past two months, the key is to get closer while we’re apart. Here, we share some tips on how to nurture close employee relationships while working remotely.
Often, it’s the little things that count. If employees are working remotely, the time for casual conversation and coffee break socialising is lost. To help recover this important dimension of working life, managers should accept that perhaps Zoom meetings shouldn’t be all business. There’s no harm in putting aside five or ten minutes to ask how everyone’s doing, how someone’s week was, and so on. A one to one email, call or FaceTime could make a big difference in making everyone still feel part of the team.
Get the right tools
By now, we’re all familiar with video calling services like Zoom or Skype. However, there is a whole host of tools for effective remote working that could make your team more connected and efficient. For instance, suites like Microsoft Teams integrate file sharing and video conferencing, so your team has everything they need in one place.
However, when it comes to productivity tools, we’d discourage things like screen monitors or employee tracking. Would having your boss looking over your shoulder all day make you more productive? Unlikely – it would probably do nothing but make you feel on edge. The same goes if this is done technologically.
It’s important to embrace the flexibility that remote working allows. Some understanding and availability goes a long way and boost employee morale. For instance, is there any real reason that meeting needs to be held at 9 am on a Monday? Is there a time that could work better for everyone?
Working together while apart
Maintaining a close relationship with remote employees takes some planning and investment but with the right mindset – and with the help of some handy tools – the small things can go a long way. By being flexible, understanding, and equipping the team with the technology they need, you can cultivate the same bonds you’d have in the office at home.