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Adjusting to A Virtual Work Environment

Change in a Virtual Work Environment

It’s hard to keep up with the myriad of changes to daily living over the last three months. One of the most pressing is how to adjust to, create, and support our work teams in this virtual environment.  Below are tips to help support our collective efforts. 

Managing Remotely

When your work environment goes remote, team management, engagement, and motivation can be difficult obstacles to overcome with any organization. The usual workday, filled with in-person meetings, classes, and check-ins, audio and visual announcements, casual water cooler conversations, is no longer — the usual. Team leaders and members are not in the same location when working remotely – and do not have immediate access to the resources and relationships they’re used to. 

If an employee or team member has a question and an issue during the day, they cannot just pop into their Manager or Team Leader’s office. They have to send an email or make a phone call -– and then (sigh) wait for the response. Vice versa, managers and team leaders do not have the in-person accessibility to employees and members that they are used to having– which makes management even more difficult. 

Since it looks like remote work environments will be the status quo, at least for the immediate and foreseeable future, we’ve outlined some tips to help you bridge the VIRTUAL environment gap to better manage, engage and motivate your team, when in-person isn’t an option. 

Craft Clear Communication Guidelines 

Put in place clear guidelines for communication.

  1. Determine how you and your team will communicate. Is it email or text? Perhaps video conferencing?
  2. Decide what you and your team will communicate. Is it attendance? Is it work-related issues? Are new policies in effect?
  3. Identify when you and your team will communicate. Is it once-a-week or specific dates/times every week?
  4. Identify and communicate who is required to attend and who is optional
  5. Set and communicate expectations on all required communication response and turnaround. Is it 12 hours? 24 hours? 48 hours? 

Educate on the Process (and the Technology) of Working Remotely

Give your team the tools to succeed in their new remote environment by ensuring they understand what is being asked of them – and know how to use the technologies required of them. With in-person communication and presentations being no longer an option, you must look to virtual platforms. And there are a lot of them! Here are just a few:

  • GoToWebinar for live virtual presentations and educational meetings
  • Zoom for free-video conferencing and team discussions
  • Slack for team chat communication
  • ZookSMS for mass texts. Whichever platform you choose, be sure to prepare an on-boarding tutorial for team members, if needed, that includes technical specifications required, link to download, how to sign up, best practices, and more.

Combat Social Isolation with Virtual Personal Interaction

According to this 2018 study, one of the biggest hurdles to working remotely is loneliness. To combat this, allow time for your team to be vulnerable and connect with each other – especially in times of crisis. Make sure to plan for time during virtual or phone meetings (either at the beginning of or the end of) to check-in on the physical, mental, and emotional state of each member of your team. See what’s going on in their lives – the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

If you have a lot of team members, consider breaking them up into groups. You can also open up your calendar and allow members to schedule 1-1 time with you when they need it through a free online scheduling tool like Calendly, which integrates with your calendar of choice whether it be Outlook, Gmail, etc.

Motivate Your Team 

Team building is essential to engaging and motivating employees. Members that are used to seeing their co-workers on the regular, no longer have that option. Create ways to bring your remote team together face-to-face as often as possible. Host an impromptu video-chat, take advantage of your WellStyles resources for virtual live workouts, or workshops led by our WellStyles Wellness Team professionals, create or support fitness-related team challenges with incentives through WellStyles, or consider arranging a weekend hike where there is plenty of social distancing room for everyone.

Together, we can share ideas, practical applications, and opportunities to align this new normal with our individual cultures to continue to serve our communities, co-workers, and employer organizations.

Do you have ideas or remote working solutions to share? Drop us a note so we can share those in future Benefits Broadcasts! 

Valley Schools is committed to helping our members manage their benefit plans and stay motivated and healthy. Please reach out to your Account Manager or Wellness Team expert with questions, or to access our virtual enrollment or wellness options. Together we are stronger!

Contact us today to learn more about how we can support your health and wellness goals!

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