In today’s world of COVID-19, employers want to ensure their employees feel as safe as possible. For many, this means allowing most, if not, all employees to stay in their homes and work remotely. The push to remote work during the pandemic has shifted perspectives so that many employers will retain a remote workforce long after this situation is over. So, how do companies foster the same inclusion that working together in an office promotes?
Promote Social Interactions
We, humans, are social creatures. For some, going into the office provides a necessary kind of social interaction that is separate from their lives at home. Helping to provide some of that is essential to making the remote employee feel welcome and included. Video calls are an important tool to utilize as seeing one another provides a sense of belonging that isn’t felt through words on a screen. It creates a more personal connection.
Another way to promote social interactions is to create a place for groups of employees in similar situations to communicate and share some stories of their lives outside of the workplace. Working parents may be able to provide others with childcare advice, date night activities, and playtime ideas. Pet parents may be able to share fun pictures of their furry friends or discuss exercise activity ideas for their restless pups. Fostering these connections creates empathy and a supportive environment for your employees.
Create and Enforce Structure
Being in an office automatically promotes a certain type of structure. Be it the placement of the offices or desks, generally, people who work together will be somewhat close to each other in the office. Build on that structure in the remote environment.
Utilize tools that help to set availability. Work together to establish the types of communications that are acceptable for different threads of information. When is a call in order? When is a simple instant message preferred by your co-worker? Are there different levels of documentation needed for certain tasks and requests? Using feedback and trial-and-error, you will better understand the needs of your teams and what works well. Provide your managers with the tools to be flexible yet able to enforce the guidelines to establish ways for all to be successful.