If your team is now following stay-at-home orders and working from home, you might be wondering what to do to keep your work-from-home employees engaged! Here are a few ideas.
#1 – Equip your team with what they need to work remotely.
It is incredibly frustrating being asked to do something when you don’t have the tools or skills you need to do it! Make sure your team members have good equipment and a work-from-home set-up that enables them to be productive. For me, it was buying two monitors, a good webcam and a good headset with a microphone. Maybe it’s upgrading their internet. Maybe it’s having a practice session with Zoom or Microsoft Teams to get acquainted with how you’ll work together remotely. Ask what they need to overcome their individual challenges of working from home to keep your work-from-home employees engaged.
#2 – Help your team stay connected with you and one another through regular virtual team meetings.
Hold a regular huddle meeting to kick off each day or each week. Start the meeting with “High Fives” where team members can recognize one another for ways they are helping each other or performing great work. Then talk through the work plan and priorities, and address any abnormalities. Consider repurposing part or all of one of your huddle meetings to focus on human connection. Hearing each other’s stories and struggles can create empathy and understanding within the team, and can become a vehicle for getting support. Share your own experience and struggles. This is great for building relationships and trust.
TIP: Create some virtual Rules of Engagement. Some examples: everyone has to be on video, dress casually (but no PJ’s!), start on time/end on time, close other applications or use “do not disturb” features so everyone can be mentally present during the meeting, use the “raise hand” feature available on so many virtual meeting platforms to help control the flow of conversation, and follow an agenda.
#3 – Check in with your team members more frequently than you would in-person in the office.
When you check in, ask what their concerns are about working remotely. Ask about their work victories and challenges. Recognize any great work they are doing. Ask about their family. Where are they feeling disconnected? Listen. Empathize. Support. Encourage!
The goal here is to have continuous dialogue without micromanaging. Assume your team members have positive intent, that they are doing the right things while working from home. Give them the space to do their work. If they know your heart is in the right place (that is, that you want the best for them, are looking out for their best interests, and are committed to their success), your checking in won’t feel like you are micromanaging.
In short, you may be swamped with your workload, but be deliberate about connecting with everyone on your team to keep your work-from-home employees engaged!