Today we are going to be talking about making genuine connections with your virtual team members, and what that really means. Connecting with people virtually goes beyond simply sharing information about each other; it comes from genuine intention to grow relationships, and the genuine presence that comes from that intention.
96% of Employees Have Spoken: Remote Work is Here to Stay
COVID-19 vaccinations are making their way across the world and it finally feels like change is on its way. However, not everything is going to go back to exactly how it was pre-COVID. The way we work, for example, is one thing that’s undergone a permanent (and positive) change.
Millions moved to teleworking arrangements when the COVID-19 restrictions hit. This has proven to be a win-win for employers and employees. Gartner reports that 80% of employers plan to allow their staff to work remotely (at least part-time) going forward. And after having a taste of the virtual working environment, employees have made it clear that this is something they’re unwilling to fully relinquish. In a FlexJobs survey of 4,000 employees who began working remotely during the pandemic, 65% have expressed a desire to continue with full-time remote work, while 31% favour a hybrid arrangement.
Why remote work environments are so sought after
Benefits for employees
Well, that 96% statistic noted above is a major reason for starters. When nearly 100% of the workforce prefers a specific employment condition, employers need to act in kind or risk being unable to attract or retain good talent. There are a number of remote work factors that appeal to employees. Cutting out the commute is a bonus for many; especially that 36% who reported a roundtrip commute of two+ hours pre-pandemic.
Others point to a better work-life balance that gives them additional time with their family, partners, and pets. Fewer interruptions, a quieter work environment, and less office politics are all common reasons cited for a preference for teleworking.
Benefits for employers
From the employer lens, aside from simply having happier workers, embracing the remote work reality also makes a lot of sense financially. There are some pretty substantial cost savings to be had. Just ask Sun Microsystems, who has reportedly saved $68 million a year in real estate costs by allowing employees to work from home. A remote workforce is also a productive workforce – 51% of employees report being more productive working from home than in an office setting.
Benefits for the environment
There are even environmental benefits to the reduction in commuting that results from a remote workforce. Reduced GHG emissions, improved air quality, and reductions in noise pollution are just a few of the positive outcomes from the pandemic.
How organizations can foster collaboration in a virtual world
While an ongoing remote working situation is the preferred option for most, challenges with connection and collaboration are often pointed to as a drawback to the virtual team environment. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. Just because collaboration used to look one way, that doesn’t mean it can’t be reimagined in a better way in a remote setting.
Here are three ways that leaders can foster a culture of collaboration remotely:
- Communicate effectively – Clear, straight-forward, and streamlined correspondence is a cornerstone for high-performing remote teams and is critical to success. Have mechanisms in place to ensure that team members are in the loop and feel confident asking questions or requesting clarification.
- Set clear goals and objectives – Employees who understand what is expected of them and how their projects fit into the broader picture are much better positioned for success than those who are given ambiguous direction.
- Build a more humanized workplace – The shared stress many experienced by going through the haphazard transition to virtual work has resulted in a heightened authenticity among team members . Good leaders will communicate openly with their staff and work to maintain strong connections within their teams.
How is your organization readying itself for the new remote work reality? Have your teams adjusted well and are they performing to their maximum potential? Our complimentary virtual teams performance survey will answer that question for you.
A year ago, I would have had an incredibly difficult time imagining a set of circumstances that would have kept me from a dear friend’s funeral. Yet, that’s exactly what happened when I recently found myself unable to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions. As I mourned this loss in my own way, it also made me pause and reflect on just how much the Coronavirus pandemic is wearing on us emotionally.
American workers spend a lot of time in meetings – an average of 6 hours per week by some estimates, with the total number of weekly meetings across the country as high as 55 million. At the same time, nearly half of all meetings are rated as “poor” by employees, meaning they walk away feeling as though their time has been wasted and little was accomplished. (Verizon)