With all the virtual work that has been occurring, many businesses have had to take a leap into the virtual world and figure out ways to keep their employees connected. The hard fact is that you cannot connect employees virtually the same way you can in person. However, there are many ways you can work to accomplish this connection virtually. The most important thing is to make sure adequate time is given for both business and fun.
Coffee Breaks/Virtual Happy Hour
Intentionally schedule in coffee breaks and virtual happy hours for employees that usually work close. This may mean intentionally setting up some breaks. When everyone was physically at the same place there may have been times that you thought more breaks were needed by some or you may have felt there were too many breaks being taken by others. But when co-workers cannot be together, they will realize how much they are missing when not having that time to connect on a personal level with those they work with. You can schedule these breaks as mandatory or voluntary, that is totally up to you as manager. The main thing to remember is that you need to be sure you are clear on expectations. It may help if you plan a certain activity or game to keep everyone on a fun and neutral topic. Let them know this is a “no work” time but do have topics of discussion ready to put out there to get things started.
Working virtually can cause more work for a supervisor, but the kind of work will change. Use your teamwork/networking programs to start calling out employees for exemplary work. Use and recommend that your direct reports have individual calls with each other. Start a GIF exchange where each person shares a GIF to describe their day. Not only will these things break up the feeling of disconnection but they may bring a little laughter, which is needed right now as well!
Working remotely can make employees feel isolated. A way to combat that is collaboration. Again, use your existing programs and platforms to encourage employees to work together, even when they could work separately. Consider assigning partners for projects to encourage collaboration. To replace the times they may have just walked down the hall to a person’s desk, encourage them to make a skype or phone call rather than just an email or IM. By collaborating with others, employees will feel connected and be more productive.
Establish and Improve Processes
While it seems like more work, working virtually can provide insight into holes in a company’s processes and procedures. Encourage employees to give feedback about their experiences and what they feel could be improved. You can even encourage and empower them to verbalize the reason the improvement is needed and submit possible solutions. Then evaluate what they come up with and share the improvement recommendation with the team.
Start a Virtual Game
There are many games and icebreakers that can be done online. So, sign up for one and pass it around virtually to your employees for them to complete their part. Scrabble, Pictionary, Scattergories all have online versions that can be used to create a laugh and help keep employees connected.
Moving to a virtual environment may seem like more work at first, however, over time you will get into a rhythm and wonder why you were worried about the transition. This is an opportunity to encourage and empower yourself and your employees to be better at their job and ultimately that will benefit the company. In a way… you can’t afford NOT to enrich your virtual working environment. It may be here to stay, at least in part.
VA on the Spot can help you create a calendar of ideas as well as help with a plan to implement those ideas. For help with idea implementation or with your general workload, whether it is helping take some of your busy work so you can help your employees or assisting in employee management, VA on the Spot can help you achieve success, one task at a time. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.