In just a few short weeks, companies across the world advanced their digital strategies by five years when they sent employees to work from the confines of their homes. Employers rushed to scale remote operations while employees were suddenly faced with a whole new way of working. This brought with it challenges and benefits.
As businesses bring their people back into the workplace, some companies, like Fujitsu and Twitter, have announced that employees can work from home permanently as they recognise remote work’s positive influence on productivity. Others continue to blend home and office working.
Why it’s vital to stay connected
Many people now realise that remote working offers plenty of flexibility and autonomy. But it also brings a feeling of disconnection from our colleagues and the organisation itself.
Instilling a sense of community and togetherness is important wherever your people are based. It is essential that employees feel connected to the organisation they work for. Why does this matter? Because it helps people feel that they belong, that they are part of something bigger. It also helps them to make sense of their work and understand how they are contributing to the direction of the company and its objectives.
The importance of being part of a team
Teams play an important role in our sense of belonging and togetherness. They provide a ready-made network for support, feedback, collaboration and socialising – both in a professional and personal sense.
Teams are also proven to boost performance. According to Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report, 74 per cent of the companies that adopt a team-based approach to leadership, as opposed to the traditional hierarchical approach, have seen an improvement in performance.
Feeling part of a team is easy if you sit alongside your teammate; but it’s naturally more challenging for those who work remotely.
So how can you create a sense of togetherness and community with a remote workforce? How can you make them feel part of a team where they are provided with regular contact, feedback, and support from their peers, managers and the wider business?
The answer, of course, is through technology.
Social technology: getting everyone in the same room
Of all the ways technology has changed our lives, the ability to connect and communicate with anyone, instantly and regardless of location, is one of the most life-changing.
At its essence, the rise of social media, instant messaging and video calls mean that we need never to feel disconnected again. We have access to the world at our fingertips.
The world of work has been quick to adopt instant messaging and video calls, with platforms such as Slack and Skype. However, to truly engage and connect people, workplace technology needs to mirror the technology we use in our social life. It should be familiar, fun, easy to use, mobile, and of course secure.
But technology on its own will not support a business’s culture. We can have all the tech in the world and still be estranged from our work and from each other.
We know how engaging social platforms such as Facebook can be, and how effective they are at keeping us in touch and in the loop with very little effort. This is where businesses need to catch up.
Social platforms for work should enable employees to connect across teams, departments, and locations. They should foster a culture of openness and collaboration, helping to break down silos and ensuring that information flows freely throughout the organisation.
They are also a place to catch up on company news, to see what other people are working on, and to give and receive recognition, a key to motivation.
Give workers access to all of this via the devices they choose to use, and people can be connected to one another, their managers, goals, insights, and the company at large, no matter where in the world they are based.
It’s not all about the technology
However, technology alone cannot keep people connected. There needs to be a concerted effort by business leaders to consistently reinforce company culture and amplify its purpose and meaning.
To do this, start by reinforcing the core culture you want, and its values. This can be achieved through a combination of:
- Regular consistent and transparent communication
- Frequent short meetings to help maintain focus, connection and energy
- Education and alignment of managers
- Frequent recognition of exemplary cultural and values-based behaviours
- Regular check-ins to clarify, align and reinforce
- Goals and targets that are aligned not just to the business plan, but the business purpose
- Ensuring that there is a balance between work and life
Those leaders who have found ways to maintain cohesive teams and keep them connected will emerge from the pandemic more resilient and ready to face the future, regardless of where their people are based.
People First by MHR is an HR platform that can keep your employees connected wherever they are. To find out more visit https://mhrglobal.com/future-of-work
by Emma Isichei, Chief Marketing Officer, MHR