4 Superpowers Managers Gain During Remote Work That Keep a Company Connected
Remote. Distanced. Isolated. Separate. Apart. Unnecessary.
Once not a part of our vocabulary, these words have quickly made their place in our most commonly used words since the COVID-19 pandemic rocked our world. Still uncertain of how long we will be separate from our community, these words and the actions that come along with them are a semi-permanent aspect of our lives.
So much of our everyday language these days is about separating ourselves from each other and keeping a safe distance. Though trying to protect our physical health, isolation has and will continue to affect our emotional, intellectual, and social well-being.
Many of us have found the good and the bad that comes from working remotely. In a recent study about remote work, 44.8% of people said the best part of remote work is having more flexibility, family time, and a better work-life balance. Additionally, 24.3% felt that the best part of remote work is having no commute to work, which 55% of people don’t miss (including the wasted time spent traveling).
63.3% of people surveyed feel the worst part about working from home is having less spontaneous connection and collaboration, while 10.1% of people claim the worst part has no work-life boundaries. Furthermore, 73% miss social interaction the most, and 51% miss face-to-face collaboration (the study was collected from 400+ participants who were allowed to click multiple options, which is why not all numbers add to 100%).
With newfound benefits that come from being able to work from home and many challenges that we never imagined before this, it’s essential to continue to work towards a perfect remote work environment. We need to create an environment where the benefits of working from home are amplified, and people don’t miss working in the office.
Remote and Distanced- Even In Our Companies?
The pandemic has just started, and we are unsure about the long-term effects social distancing will have on ourselves, our workplaces, and our economies. Though we have yet to understand the real impact the pandemic will have on our relationships, there will be a strain. As stated above, many of us miss the social interaction and face-to-face collaboration. With the necessity of being distanced, isolated, and separated, these relationships have changed. In many cases, the pandemic is driving us further away from each other than bringing us together. There are many strains not only on our relationships but our relationships in the workplace as well.
Fortunately for managers, this is an excellent time for us to step in. Now more than ever, managers have a unique opportunity to unite people and create more meaningful relationships. Even while physically distanced, the gap can be shortened within our company with increased company interaction during meetings. Perhaps with meetings online, there is more opportunity to be connected than we were in person. We are now able to redefine our workplaces and how we interact with each other.
With this heightened responsibility for managers, where should we start? How do we make these relationships more meaningful? How can we enable our employees to do their best work and feel like they are as connected while working from home as they were in the office? We’ve come up with 4 things managers can do during meetings to increase connection and communication during remote work. Perhaps, we may never want to transition back into completely working in the office once we utilize and master these new skills.
Virtual Platforms Give Us “Superpowers” To Communicate With Our Employees
With people missing social interaction and face-to-face collaboration while working at home, there is now a unique time to redefine interaction during meetings. As a manager, it’s essential to facilitate these meetings. Yes, there are many things that we miss from being in the office. However, this time to redefine our workplaces and ability to use virtual platforms “give[s] managers an extraordinary set of “superpowers”: the ability to do things in meetings that were either unthinkable or enormously challenging in the old days of conference tables and flip charts.”
What are these “superpowers” and what can we do to incorporate them into our meetings?
One: Connect People From Anywhere and Everywhere
As stated above, many people love the reduced travel time that comes from remote work. Once wasted time used to avoid rush hour by leaving an hour before we need to be in the office, we can now spend the mornings with our families or for ourselves and still make the 10 am call with ease. Remote work provides us an opportunity to connect with people from the comfort of our own home. While we are still working from home, now is the time to use this to our advantage. Now is the time to connect with people that were not always as accessible due to distance and travel expenses.
As we’re working from home, take the opportunity to connect with a partner company across the country. Invite training from an advisor that was too expensive to fly in. Allow employees more freedom to travel and continue to work wherever they are. We’ve never had so much flexibility and accessibility than we do right now.
Two: Use Break Out Rooms
With transitioning to meeting over Zoom and other video chat platforms, many have found the difficulty of participating in meetings (especially with a large group of people). The lag in connection, the pause needed to unmute, the introverted worker who can slide even more under the radar are just a few examples of how video chat inhibits our ability to communicate and collaborate with our team naturally. Many platforms provide the opportunity to split the call into groups with the use of breakout rooms, which allows teammates to have a more personal interaction. Even better, this allows for brainstorming and new ideas to benefit the whole company.
In an article from the Harvard Business Review, one company used breakout rooms to solve its latest issue due to the effects of COVID-19. The company lost its greatest revenue source and needed to analyze the market and its strengths to find a new area for growth. After dividing the team into 3 groups, each having an appointed leader, and 30 minutes, the CEO was presented with 9 new ideas, 4 of which he had never thought of.
Could a collaboration like this exist before the COVID-19 pandemic? Of course. However, this exercise would have taken more time with moving groups to different rooms, meandering conversations, and eventually trying to bring the groups back together.
With the virtual platform, the CEO and other managers can be in more control, reducing the time spent in meetings and enhancing the results.
Remember: No one wants to be in a meeting that is too long. Everyone loves a productive, worth-while meeting that doesn’t last all day. During remote work, “avoid unnecessary meetings. Many people have discovered that in the past, there have been too many meetings. Keep video meetings concise and to the point. No one wants to join an excessive amount of sessions each week.”
Three: Invite Employees to Take Polls During the Meeting
Video chats can become long and mundane as many of us are sitting in the same space (some of which used to be just our living room/bedroom before we had to do remote work). As a manager, it’s crucial to provide employees with opportunities to stay engaged and communicate when appropriate. One solution is to take polls. Polls allow everyone to voice their opinion, either anonymously or publicly, and can be a significant starting point for discussion.
One company used polls to talk about a necessary 20% across-the-board pay cut from now until the end of the year. With a scale from 1 (not in favor at all) to 5 (very in favor), employees were able to share their opinions through a vote that allowed conversation to occur.
Again, could this happen in the office? Of course. However, the slickness of technology and the control a manager can have in these situations are unbeatable.
Four: Enable a Chat Board
How many times have we sat in meetings where an untimely question disrupts the whole process? Though maybe with good intention and real inquisitive concern, questions posed at the wrong time can instantly change the dynamic of a meeting (and extend the length of one as well). With video chat, specifically Zoom, a chat board can be provided to disperse this problem.
With a clear explanation of the purpose of the chat board, employees can ask questions that can be seen by the rest of the team or sent directly to the manager. When the time is right, the manager can then answer questions to keep the flow of the meeting and save time.
Apart But Still United
The words “distanced,” “isolated,” “separate,” “apart,” and “unnecessary” are now commonly used words in our everyday communication. However, these words don’t have to be a part of how we talk about our companies. We are physically distanced, but the yearning for face-to-face collaboration and social interaction doesn’t need to exist while we are working from home. Remote work enables us to try things that were unthinkable even a few months ago. It also enhances our ability to collaborate in ways that were more complicated and time-consuming in the office. As managers, it’s imperative to connect people from anywhere and everywhere and use the tools provided on virtual platforms such as breakout rooms, polls, and chat boards. By doing this, our teams will never feel like social interaction is strained. By doing this, our companies can stay physically apart but still be united.
Let Us Know What You Think
We’d love to hear what new “superpowers” you’ve gained while working remotely. How has your company changed, and what do you plan on implementing permanently? Let us know!