We now live in a world where digitization empowers the workforce. Where anytime cloud access, remote desktop login and popular initiatives such as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) are o longer promises, but real actions. The great part is that these actions are quite beneficial as, cloud solutions can lower costs and enhance productivity, while mobile device adoption gives both staff and executives the apps and access they need to complete mission-critical tasks.
What's the catch here? Well, at this point there is the bridge of disconnection between IT and the digital workforce — users are frustrated that technology doesn’t always work as advertised while technology pros are looking for ways to streamline solution delivery without compromising security. So, how do companies deal with the disconnection and empower agile management to have a more human workplace?
1. Create contact
With tons of apps now available in communication, it's definitely quite easier to send a quick message than have an actual conversation with your colleagues. But most of the times, IMs and emails can come off cold and distant, be misconstructed or leave the recipient feeling like you don't really want to engage with them. So, when available, try a more human approach in your interaction.
For example, you can switch meetings to video conference, so that employees can see and hear fellow colleagues and interact with facial expressions. Being able to watch someone’s reaction (versus trying to figure out what they’re really feeling) can help workers bond more with each other.
Believe it or not, encouragement or praise is better received when hearing them rather reading them on a screen, and can make a difference between having a sterile remote work environment or not.
2. Be more personal
People thrive in human interaction. So, sometimes work interaction doesn't necessarily need to be about ...well... work! Even if you're drowning in deadlines, talking shop with your colleagues can get the work done, but it fails on the morale.
Make a habit in checking in with your team in regarding how they feel at the workplace, if they're satisfied with the position, their work performance and areas in which they need to grow, things they wish to learn and so on.
Better than that, make time to really get to know your team players not only professionally but also personally. Find out the names of your coworkers kids, how their veggie garden is growing, at what restaurant they are taking their partner tonight. Humanize your remote workplace by simply being a considerate person.
3. Reinvent "togetherness"
If you were now in a typical office I bet that at least once a week, after hours, you'll get a treat with fellow colleagues. It's natural to build stronger bonds between colleagues and to interact outside working hours.
When it comes to a remote position, team-building is an abstract term. You might have team members sprinkled not only across the country but also across the whole globe.
Try and engage with your colleagues from some different point of views:
- play an online game together (for all you gamers out there, you know very well how a close friendship can be built by ravaging towns in RPG gaming)
- have meetings where you dare to learn new things from each other (this already sounds like a fun drinking game)
- when on holiday, contact your colleagues that are living in the country/city you are visiting (you will be surprised by a vacation through places you might have not seen if not guided by a local).
It isn’t difficult to remove the sterile factor from a remote work environment and replace it with practices and policies to help humanize the remote workplace, and in turn, make a better workplace for everyone.