You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t do anything in your bed except sleep—and you probably know that the reason is that your brain draws associations between spaces and activities. This is good to be aware of if your aim is to improve your shut-eye; it is a troubling fact, however, if you’re among the 42% of employees now working remotely. After all, if you’ve spent years programming your brain to recognize home as the place of not work, you can hardly expect that same brain to cooperate with the new, Covid-19-driven need to do the opposite: work from home. Indeed, the data bears this out: fully two-thirds of remote workers report being disengaged from their task.
The title of this article might be misleading, then. It’s not that your employees don’t care; it’s that as much as they’d like to work from home, they’re wired to do everything but. This doesn’t mean that remote work and engaged work are incompatible. It just means that marrying the two requires a.) learning and b.) support. Below are five tips for achieving both:
1. Check-in and Share Best Practices
Long-time remote workers know that productivity depends on three simple things: a dedicated workspace, an ergonomic chair (or a standing desk), and some sort of organizational strategy. As basic as this may sound, such details mean the difference between a day of distraction and discomfort and one of dedicated focus. When checking in on employees’ well-being—something you should do regularly—offer a work-from-home tip sheet. Doing is not only a tangible act of support, it’s also a way to instill practices that nurture engagement.
2. Host Online Office Hours
Like all human beings, remote workers thrive on connection. In a normal office setting, this need is partially met by casually dropping in on colleagues and managers when doubts arise. Beyond resolving the issue, these encounters provide impromptu moments of contact that translate to feelings of connection. In a remote working environment, infrastructure needs to be put in place to support this practice. Office hours are the answer. Once or twice a week, set aside sixty minutes and make yourself available to your team via video conferencing. Spread the word and encourage folks to pop in with questions or even just a simple, quick hello.
3. Foster Community
As important as office hours may be, they’re no solution for those moments when an issue need an immediate response. Fortunately, apps like Slack offer the ability to organize real-time conversations as well as set up topic-specific meeting boards and channels. The interface borrows design features from popular social media platforms and so interactions feel much like the sort that distract employees from their work in the first place—double win!
4. Virtual Company Meetings
All the structure of office hours and communication apps means little without a foundation of community to prop them up. This is where company meetings play a vital role. Not only do they serve to communicate and organize goals, they reinforce a sense of belonging and showcase the community that your firm nurtures. Any successful company-wide meeting ensures that all participants have a voice and so encourage all in attendance to contribute. If yours is a larger firm, make use of such features as breakout rooms to support different teams and divisions in gaining the facetime needed to work successfully together.
5. Empower Your Remote Employees
Involving team members in the decision-making process drives engagement by showing folks that you see and trust in their skills. Recognition is a basic need, after all. It’s no surprise, then, that studies show employees who feel a low level of empowerment rate in the 24th percentile where engagement is concerned while those with high levels of empowerment rate in the 79th percentile. Boost empowerment by allowing remote employees to make their own decisions and communicate and implement new ideas.
As straightforward as the above may sound, talk is forever cheap. Implementing successful practices depends on tailor-made strategies that take your firm’s unique characteristics into consideration. For this, consider our Team Empowerment Academy, a personalized 12-week masterclass that turns disengaged attorneys and legal staff into a fully-engaged team of intrapreneurs.