Telework and Tele-Engagement: Best Practices for Remote Teams
As the COVID-19 threat evolves, private and public sector organizations alike are implementing telework policies. This shift is operations presents new challenges, as well as opportunities, to engage remote teams. At Washington Business Dynamics (WBD), we are uncovering innovative ways to enhance teleworking for both our firm and our clients. Here are three telework best practices that we have found most successful:
1. Engage Employees to Share Ideas
Initiatives to engage employees cannot be too top-down. In lieu of in-person meetings, an organization’s leadership should create various two-way communication platforms in order to encourage employees to share their ideas on how to operate more efficiently.
Leadership can send communication requesting that employees share their challenges and strategies for operating remotely. This demonstrates that leadership is not only open to feedback from employees, but also wants their input on how to optimize collaboration.
To enhance communication among employees, an organization can also create a web-based community forum for employees to discuss challenges, strategies, and insights with each another. For example, WBD supported one Department of Defense client with the creation of a COVID-19 Resources web page, accompanied by a Community Discussion Forum.
2. Leverage New Technology
In the absence of in-person meetings, leveraging technology is also crucial to effectively communicate among teams.
Rather than hosting large team meetings over a phone conference line, organizations utilizing video for hosting meetings can increase participation and productivity. Many online platforms provide video conferencing and meeting collaboration and can also be used to live stream virtual questions and answers sessions, C-suite messages, and traditionally in-person events. For example, WBD teams host weekly training sessions over video to ensure that employees stay up-to-date on their knowledge and skills.
Organizations can also utilize messaging platforms to create channels or groups targeted toward teams, work streams, and projects so that communication typically done in-person does not need to be added to the numerous emails that employees already receive.
For employees who may find new applications technologically advanced, organizations can provide brief training sessions to help them navigate the use of new technologies. Utilizing basic technologies such as phone and email can also go a long way. Without the ability to perform in-person check-ins, employees should conduct quick phone calls or send brief emails to check in individually with their colleagues.
3. Make Space for Team-building
According to the Harvard Business Review, “close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%.” Working remotely can leave employees feeling disconnected from their colleagues. To overcome these feelings of isolation from the workplace, leadership should maintain a supportive environment and company culture.
In order to boost employee morale, leaders can leverage video or messaging platforms to host virtual happy hours, games, and competitions. These events may also feature prizes – such as gift cards to support local businesses – for the winners. Challenges may include employees sending memes, GIFs, or pictures of pets, children, home work spaces, screenshots of video meetings with teams, and special projects. For example, our team has hosted a PowerPoint slide creation contest, a Wikipedia challenge to navigate from one page to another, and the opportunity to share favorite books.
Organizations should aim to shape an engaging remote environment during periods of increased telework to ensure more satisfied and productive employees. Rather than viewing remote work as an impediment to engagement, organizations can leverage it as an opportunity to create a sustainable company culture that can overcome any challenge.
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Washington Business Dynamics (WBD) is a veteran-owned management consulting firm specializing in acquisition, strategic advisory, and international development. We work with our clients as partners to achieve institutional change, enhance operational performance and build sustainable processes that deliver exceptional results. From our headquarters in Washington D.C. to cities around the world, our experienced team delivers strategic insights by understanding where our clients want to go, and the best way to get there. Our mission is simple: help our clients make better decisions.