With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on our everyday life and compelling us to design a ‘new normal’, organizations across the globe are choosing to adopt remote and hybrid work setups. Switching from in-person communication to online has inevitably led to less personal interaction between team members.  So how can we promote employee engagement when working remotely?

1. Prioritize face-to-face interactions

Scheduling daily and weekly virtual meetings–with cameras on!–enables the team to share their progress and make it visible to the rest of the staff. Regular virtual meetings facilitate engaging conversations where team members get a real sense of kinship towards one another. However, be conscious about respecting your colleagues' time by ensuring these meetings are not unnecessarily long.

Even a gesture as simple as saying hello at the beginning and the end of the working day via instant messaging can help build the feeling of belonging.

2. Empathize with work-life balance

Workers should be encouraged to manage their time well and to respect schedules. In addition, as a manager or a team member, it is advisable not to contact colleagues outside working hours, let alone expect a response from them.  If this limit is exceeded, it may affect stress levels.

3. Recreate a work 'atmosphere' to promote employee engagement

One of the pillars of an organization is the ‘human factor’, meaning that work is a place where we socialize and where satisfaction is found through creativity and common effort. An example of how this could be done is scheduling interactive activities throughout the day where people can chit-chat with their coworkers, as they would on a normal day.

Also, setting weekly or biweekly virtual events where all coworkers can take part in team building activities and get to know each other better will help communication and collaboration flow better within the teams. 

Strong empathy for one another is one of the driving forces behind a greater level of group cohesion, thus incorporating it into our objectives is extremely important. That is, when an objective is achieved at a group level during difficult times, the team feels more affinity towards the company and is more loyal to its members. 

4. Encourage confidence and autonomy in the team

One of the problems that managers face on a regular basis is associated with the lack of trust. Just because we are now working virtually does not necessarily imply that we have to constantly make sure our team is working. Excessive control can become a great concern for some employees and, worse, a potential impediment to their task performance. That is why it is crucial to clearly define current objectives and to genuinely trust and believe in your team’s success, without keeping them under your thumb. 

Despite the fact that most companies thumb their noses at the new mode of working remotely, there is no doubt that this transition is here to stay. For this reason, we will have to do our best to ensure that the virtual work environment does not put the company’s culture at stake, but on the contrary, makes it more flexible and adaptable to changes. Switching to remote and hybrid work models is definitely challenging for many of us, but by emphasizing regular human interaction within the company and instilling a sense of belonging to a community will make the transition easier and more advantageous. 

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