5 minute read

“88% of organisations have encouraged or required employees to work from home due to Coronavirus” according to the latest research by Gartner. The impacts of this new way of working are being experienced across the globe with many organisations being at different levels of preparedness for virtual working. However, it’s not just the technical and practical aspects of virtual working that are keeping leaders awake at night.

Some of the major concerns for leaders, managers and HR Executives alike are ‘how do we keep employees motivated and engaged using new digital formats?’ and ‘how do we ensure that employee wellbeing is taken care of?’

To help navigate employee motivation and inclusion during this time of digital disruption, we have compiled a list of 5 ways to ensure that you are leading inclusively in a virtual environment.

1. Leverage technology as a way to include more voices

With platforms like Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams and others there are many interactive ways in which you can engage employees and colleagues during team meetings. Be proactive about inviting colleagues in to the discussion. Zoom has an integrated whiteboard feature that allows team members to collaborate in a fun and engaging way. Using polling is also a great way to draw out opinions and voices in an anonymous way and capture real time data. For example, your daily catch-ups could start with a quick ‘How is a everyone feeling today’ poll allowing you to quickly temperature check team morale or engagement.

2. Hold Virtual 121s

Whilst we all adjust to the new work environment, it’s very easy for people to fade into the distance. Carrying on 121 discussions with employees is critical to staying on top of employee wellbeing and to providing a space where colleagues can continue to have a personal connection with leaders and managers. Great communication is key to successful remote working and virtual 121s are an excellent way of ensuring that people do not feel isolated, confused, demotivated, and unfocused. Also, amongst the impersonal backdrop of instant messaging, we should always remember the power of simply picking up the phone to check-in with someone. Increasing the frequency of virtual 121s in this period can help colleagues to adjust to change and allow you to hear the views of your colleagues.

3. Encourage video conferencing to build personal connections

A study by Remote.co found that, “87% of remote workers feel more connected through the use of video conferencing.” Whilst this may not always be practical, given multiple timezones and a variety of remote working arrangements, the value of putting a face to a name is still highly important. Some ways to manage this include setting expectations through circulating an agenda before a meeting, giving people time to prepare, or using the video feature selectively. For example, when a team is meeting virtually for the first time it’s great to be able to see other team members and build a personal connection.

4. Rotate timezones equally

This may sound simple,but consistently being the one person in Singapore that has to dial-in at 10pm for a 3pm Europe or 9am Americas meeting can be a microinequity. This can leave people feeling like the odd one out or drawing the short-straw every time. Share early-mornings and late night meetings more equally. Simple actions like this can send out a big message i.e. we are all in this together. Team morale and engagement will thank you for it.

5. Get creative with social activities

In a world of social distancing, we can all play our part in bringing our people closer together. Whether that is through a virtual happy hour, a virtual coffee-catch up or even a virtual games night, there are so many ways in which you can promote team building and bonding. Remember to extend these invitations to all, to ensure that all team members feel included. Use extensions to online platforms to create virtual connections. For example, using the Donut extension for Slack allows you to pair up employees every 1-4 weeks for 15 -30 minute chats. Aloha is another extension that allows team members to introduce themselves. The long and short of it is that there are plenty of ways to get creative with virtual employee engagement, so have fun with it!