Employee engagement in the digital work era

How to be a part of it when we don’t go to office anymore? //

In recent years, and particularly this one, the workplace has been moving online. Many employees are now working from home without direct supervision from managers or coworkers. This can mean that workflow decreases as there is no encouragement from those in charge, as well as a reduced engagement by the workers themselves. As this looks likely to continue, here are a few ideas to improve employee engagement.

Why not – Making social media a part of the job. Working from home means that employees engage less with their colleagues simply because of the enforced distance between them. However, utilizing social media platforms can help to bridge that barrier quite effectively. After all, most of us are already playing around on social media sites on a daily basis. Homeworkers are no exception, so why not harness this when communicating with employees? Businesses would do well to create Facebook pages where updates within the workplace can be made. Alternatively, group chats can be created on spaces such as WhatsApp and Slack, enabling quick and easy messaging between specific groups. Zoom and Teams are popular and ideal for meetings, while GatherTown is great for creating a space for coffee breaks so employees can have a chat and network informally, much as they used to do in person. Further, many firms prefer Yammer an open networking tool that allows to tab into the knowledge of others.
Conversations with and questions to others can be viewed by all members and increase the knowledge of participants, who share ideas, discuss updates and network across the global organization.

Leadership culture is key. Leaders need to lead by example and avoid making the impression that remote work is a burden. Leaders that are largely absent or get in touch occasionally via email only will destroy a productive work environment and dilute team cohesion. Leading (often global) virtual teams requires extra efforts and a true interest in the challenges managers and employees face in their environment. Since the private and work sphere more and more merge these days, disregarding the private life of team members would be ignorant. Expecting managers and employees to perform while working remotely starts with the right leadership attitude and culture. They are framing the new normal at work. In a global management environment having cross-cultural compassion skills is key leading a remote team and creating a high-performance work environment.

Communicate. It’s clear from this that communication is vital to successful working when everyone is apart. With remote working the new norm for many, leaders will need to up their game in terms of how they communicate to their teams. Part of this involves creating and setting out detailed plans and goals for remote workers so that they can work more effectively on their projects. This might even see an increase in output from workers, as it has been shown that nearly 40% of homeworkers finish their tasks faster than when at work. By providing goals, everyone gets set up for a successful workday. By including workers in these decisions and taking care of their needs, management will also be promoting a sense of belonging which, in turn, promotes a better work ethic.

Efficient collaboration and information access. An important aspect to promoting a good working environment is to ensure that the team works well together. In order to get good collaboration between team members, employers will need to provide easier ways for this to happen. There are a number of online team collaboration options available. These can include clear calendars and schedules as well as organized meetings to encourage idea-sharing. In conjunction with this, it’s important that employers make it easy for employees to get hold of information. An inability to get access to important information is definitely going to cause a reduced workflow and that’s through no fault of the employee. Relevant information should be readily available to the employee in order to encourage working. Having to trawl for information is discouraging.

However, what all of this comes down to is making the work experience fun – or at least pleasant – for the stay-at-home employee. When encouraging engagement, workers should feel like they want to participate. Tapping into that common phenomenon of FOMO (fear of missing out), is a way to get workers engaged, participating in the work, and adding input. Employers will need to be proactive, though, in order to get here, and leaders need to nurture this team spirit within their virtual teams.

Published by Sven Horak