Now more than ever, the need to engage remote employees is of paramount importance. In a post COVID-19 world, most employee relationships will have to be sustained remotely and not face-to-face. While previously we doubted the effectiveness of remote relationships, we are now beginning to see that the necessity to distance ourselves from everyone outside our homes does not mean that we have to give up on sustained professional relationships.
Doing this well is another matter, altogether. How do we switch to interactions that take place via digital platforms? In order to do this, employers need to promote a culture of online collaboration. Relationships that have been built up in Sri Lanka’s large office spaces and co-working spaces now need to be maintained online via platforms that are readily available such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and so on.
First, it is imperative that rules of etiquette are established, so that the same amount of professionalism as face-to-face interactions is maintained. Stipulating dress codes (if any), modes of uploading documents that need to be shared, rules of participating in online presentations, etc., should be clearly laid out for all employees to follow. At the same time, however, work should remain fun and engaging with constant discussion and the ability to revise and revisit projects amiably.
However, it’s also necessary that you don’t limit your interactions to online platforms alone. When possible, there should be a mix of physical and remote interactions between employees in order to maintain the momentum. While working remotely can be relaxing due to the reduced hassle of traveling and working on one’s own time, being able to share and converse about ideas freely in face-to-face meetings in office spaces can also help keep employees engaged and happy.
Furthermore, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of online coaching. Employees like to know that their professional development is still important on their employer’s agenda. This is also a good way of making all remote employees feel included in the company they work for. In all this, good and effective tools are important. For instance, excellent connectivity in video conferencing, and clear processes in how everyone is logged on are essential.
Everything will fall into place when your employees also feel that they are trusted in their roles. Allocate work according to strengths and allow your remote employees enough personal space to work as they see fit. They must feel that your goals are aligned with their own. When everyone is happy work gets done much faster and more successfully.