Remote work has become the new norm due to COVID-19. Many companies are planning to continue the work from home (WFH) option even after governments allow us to return to work.
While there are many benefits to virtual teams, most employers worry about how to keep employees engaged in a virtual work environment. If you want to build productive and connected remote teams, you must keep employees engaged.
KNOW YOUR VIRTUAL TEAM’S PERSONALITY TYPES
As a manager, your job is to know the personality type of your team members. Are they an introvert or extroverts? A best practice is to make sure introverts are as engaged and heard in virtual meetings. During meetings, be sure to pay attention to everyone’s participation levels, go around each person and ask for their input.
Even though your employees are not able to attend activities in the office physically, you should find ways for virtual employees to participate and feel part of the culture.
KEEP COMMUNICATION FLOWING
The most significant barriers to remote team engagement are communication and lack of collaboration. Pay attention to what you are sending and receiving. Tone, vocal style and pacing are often lost in email and other written forms of communication. Without context, people tend to fill in the blanks, make sure you are not just communicating through email. Set up weekly or biweekly video meetings.
BREAK UP AND BREAK OUT MEETINGS
If you have a virtual meeting that is going to go on for more than 2 hours, it’s essential to break things up. Give everyone 5 mins to take a bathroom/water break. When they return, have a quick 5-10-minute casual chat. If there are more than 6-8 people in the meeting, put them into break-out rooms so that everyone is more likely to get involved and can hear each other.
When you set up your virtual meetings, make video/camera being on a must. People will feel more engaged and like it is a ‘normal in-person meeting’ if everyone can see each other. You will be able to recognize nonverbal cues such as nodding, facial expressions, hand gestures and all the other things that humanize communication.
ENCOURAGE TEAM COLLABORATION
Remote workers and corporate colleagues should be encouraged to get to know each other and keep in touch. Lack of regular communication often leads to job dissatisfaction. As a manager, you should initiate some of these conversations. Encourage office and remote workers to call each other and managers for advice, collaboration or even birthday wishes.
If your organization is in the process of building new virtual management strategies while your employees work from home, consider downloading our free Guide to Managing Virtual Teams with general considerations that will help you, the manager, prepare to implement and support virtual work arrangements.
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