“Working together when we’re not together”
2020 is all about being virtual as our coffees, discussions, chit-chats with our colleagues and our leaders have been limited to Skype, zoom calls or MS Teams. Undisputedly, Covid-19 turned our lives topsy turvy in every possible way and left us scrambling to re-imagine, re-create, and reinvent our ‘workplaces’ to ‘workspaces’.
According to a report by JLL, 66% of employees in India immediately shifted to working from home at the onset of the pandemic outbreak. Over the last six months 30% of Indian workforce believe that the lockdown has given them an enhanced opportunity to balance their work and life, even as 41% of them report missing their office environment. The average Indian is saving nearly 2 hours of commute timing daily and INR 5,000 monthly while working from home (survey; Awfis). So it’s hardly any surprise that 74% of professionals want to continue working from home once the pandemic is over!
However, work from home isn’t all roses and end to commute heartaches. New challenges are surfacing as employees continue to work from home. About 27% and 23% respondents in the same survey reported isolation and work-life balance as the biggest challenges while working from home.
Clearly, organizations that focus on creating innovative, remote employee experience and new set of behaviours will build workplaces of the future successfully. For instance, many companies have upped the volume of communication that goes out to the employees, top down. Organizations like Cognizant have ramped up the number of activities on its employee portal and rolled out several employee assistance programs. According to Cognizant’s MD, “This is the time to over communicate.” Wherever communication is obscure or broken, relationships will falter.
Predictably, experimental and agile tech companies like Google have taken the lead on successful workplace habits in negotiating experimental new spaces!
Some tips one should definitely steal today:-
- Designating a Work-space
Working from home makes keeping work and home lives separate a challenge, a disbalance in either will cause a detriment in both. Most of us are used to going to our offices daily and should try to recreate that as much as possible like, creating a Virtual-Friendly home workspace wherein we can sit and work for long hours :
- Set up a call with perfect lighting — If you’re looking for some Perfect Lighting Tips for Video Conferencing Calls, you may like this video.
- Ensure that we have a functioning camera or headset.
- Dial in to meetings on phone or laptop and find a quiet space to talk.
2. Get more out of team meetings
“Team meetings are often some of the only interactions we’ll have with our team when working apart so schedule them, prioritize them even if there isn’t anything urgent, and be socially present,” says Google.
In a remote working environment, team meetings are the lifeline! The way we communicate and run our meetings is more crucial than working in an office environment.
While a written communication can be misinterpreted, video calls, on the other hand, bring a lot more clarity in terms of the tone and body language of our team members.
“Some engagement signals are lost when working together virtually,” says Google, “particularly when we mute the microphone or focus intently on our laptops.”
Here are some tips to keep in mind when working virtually:
- Get Involved! Giving both verbal and non-verbal cues, such as a head nod, an “hmm,” or even a “yeah, good idea!”.
- Maintain eye contact unless you’re taking notes.
3. Seek for Engagement
Don’t let meetings go dull and boring. Instead, look for some open ended questions that increase engagement and our team members’ participation. Bonus points for making them laugh!
Avoid dead conversations like How are you? Stick to questions that give them time to think and answer. Like ask “What did you do over the weekend?. Be patient and wait a bit until something comes up.
4. Make sure everyone gets heard
It’s our job as a leader to ensure every perspective gets noticed and heard. It might get difficult for introverts, so creating a comfortable space for everyone should be a top priority.
Google also recommends using meeting time to get to know your teammates better. You might even schedule a virtual breakfast or lunch together.
5. Wellbeing is top priority
To avoid virtual meeting burnout, Siemens, a global company leading in multiple industries, emphasized on
- Focusing on outcomes rather than time spent in the office.
- Building Trust and empowering the employees.
Put together, these two points make up a brilliant management strategy founded on emotional intelligence, the ability to make emotions work for you, instead of against you.
Between meetings or other high-concentration work, treat ourself with some buffer breaks- like, take a walk, surf the internet, or do anything else we want to decompress.
6. Set team norms
Instead of making assumptions, clearly communicate guidelines to your teammates:
- Communication like answering emails/pings off-hours, expected response times, information-sharing across time zones.
- clarifying task expectations and ownership within a team.
The VERY foundation of our remote work-management strategy is to take the time and effort to take care of our people, to unlock the true potential of remote work. Make technology work for you — adapt to the new playing field but never take your eye off the ball!