10 Ways to Keep Remote Employees Connected
Over the past 18 months, employees working across the Life Sciences have proven that there is space for both hybrid and fully remote working within the industry. Although these ways of working bring many benefits to the industry, they can also have their drawbacks. If you’re planning on making remote working a more permanent choice for employees, there are some extra things to consider, especially in terms of how you’re going to keep your employees connected.
From the 23rd – 27th July 2020, Totaljobs interviewed 2,000 UK workers to assess how the shift towards remote working had affected social interactions in the workplace. Their results found that 67% of respondents felt that working from home during lockdown had negatively impacted the variety of their social interactions, with the average number of people interacted with on a daily basis down 51% from March 2020.
As well as feelings of loneliness and isolation, 24% of respondents also reported depleting productivity, creativity, and problem-solving abilities, with their lack of connection with other employees acting as the main cause of this.
In this article, we outline 10 things you can do to keep your employees connected regardless of how and where they work…
Encourage The Use of Video
Encourage your employees to use video when on team calls, as being able to see lots of other faces will reduce feelings of loneliness. However, to prevent Zoom fatigue, don’t expect people to use their cameras for every single call. If it’s just a quick one-on-one for an update on a particular task, stick to a phone call instead.
Schedule Personal Catchups as Well as Work Calls
Try to schedule some time for you and your team to have a quick personal catchup, whether this is on a daily, weekly, or fortnightly basis. If it’s not always possible, at least try to begin work calls on a personal note.
Experiment With New Teams and Pairings
Encourage your employees to work collaboratively on projects and open up new opportunities for teamwork. Where possible, try to bring together employees that don’t usually work together, or look out for staff wanting to try out something new. This will help to build new relationships within your team and will also help to motivate your staff, so it’s a double win.
Create a Staff Newsletter
If you have the resources, creating a newsletter that’s for staff and about staff is a great way to keep people connected. You can encourage staff to include anything that’s non-work related, such as:
- Book reviews
- Holiday photos
- Parenting tips
- Pet pictures
- Tips on a hobby or skill
You can also use a newsletter to celebrate milestones such as engagements, weddings, and births, and to shout out employees who are doing a great job.
Create Virtual Clubs
Consider setting up virtual clubs for employees to attend on a monthly basis. These could be anything including book clubs, cooking clubs, and parenting clubs, and could even be set up in person if staff live locally to each another. Talk to your employees and find out what they’re interested in and try to start off with something that will get as many people involved as you can.
Change the Way You Onboard New Starters
According to the Totaljobs survey, 60% of younger workers have struggled to build new relationships with their colleagues, and 53% have struggled building relationships with their managers. When you have a new starter, focus on making them feel included, and give them opportunities to get to know the team. Here are a few suggestions:
- Send an email to your team introducing your new starter.
- Give new employees a mentor so that they have someone they can always go to.
- Organise a team activity soon after a new starter starts either virtually or in-person depending on where they’re based.
- Have regular catchups with new starters and make yourself available to them.
Remember that your existing team will likely have already developed a good bond in the office and that you’ll need to actively encourage them to build relationships with new starters too.
Organising competitions is a great way of bringing together employees with similar interests. Setting up competitions for your team to do is really simple, and the prizes you set can vary depending on your budget.
Again, take the time to talk to your employees and find out what they’d like to see implemented, and make sure anything you do bring in is inclusive to everyone.
Create Virtual Drop-Ins
If you’ve got a large team with a varied workload, creating drop-in sessions is a good way of bringing people together when it suits their schedule. You could set up a drop-in for work chat where employees share how they’re doing or raise anything they need extra support on, or a personal drop-in at lunchtime for people who just want to see a human face.
Schedule Town Hall Meetings
Schedule company meetings on a quarterly basis – or whenever suits you – to share company updates, personal milestones, and achievements, and to shout out new starters. Encourage your staff to talk about current projects or challenges and encourage people across the company to attend.
Organise Team Socials
Depending on your budget, organising in-person team socials is a great way to keep employees connected and away from their screens. You could do anything from pub lunches and escape rooms to a theatre trip. If budgets are limited or if your team is really spread apart, virtual socials are great too, but get creative! Instead of quizzes, you could try out some DIY meal kits for you to do together.
Remember That Everyone Works Differently…
When it comes to making a hybrid or fully remote working model work for your organisation, remember that not everyone works well in the same way, and what might work for one employee won’t always work for another. Take the time to regularly check in with your remote employees to listen to how you can support them and make keeping them connected a top priority.