5 ways to make remote connections
There are many advantages to the hybrid work model, from flexibility and work/life balance for employees to savings on commercial office leases for companies. But many organizations are also facing lower employee engagement and difficult retention issues, particularly with new hires. Since we can no longer depend on physical proximity to transmit culture and build working relationships between employees, we have to intentionally build those human connections in other ways. Here are five suggestions for how to do that:
Make the intranet a true hub
When employees aren’t bumping into each other in the office, they need a venue for connection. Replace or rethink your intranet to create a place that’s not only useful for employees, but a receptacle for your culture. First, make sure the intranet is an easy way for employees to find the tools and info they need to do their jobs. But also set up a calendar of regularly occurring cultural articles or digital publications hosted there.
Give new employees a mentor – and a buddy
Entry-level employees and new hires will have a harder time building relationships in a hybrid work model, and that can have negative effects on their retention. Develop mentorship programs to pair them with a more senior mentor who can guide and coach them professionally, as well as a peer closer to their own level who can be an informal resource and advisor — and help them connect with others at their level.
Encourage managers to spend face time
Spending in-person time with direct reports is easier when everyone’s in the office every day, but it’s also possible to build in that time in a hybrid work model. Suggest that managers set a specific day (or days) of the week when they’re always in the office — and have them encourage their teams to show up on those days too. It’s much easier to build camaraderie and collaborative relationships with some face-to-face time.
Build human connections with communications
Make it an internal communications priority to include the faces and voices of your employees — with videos, podcasts, and employee photos. Sometimes you might do that in a serious way, such as remote videos featuring several employees commenting on a specific value or business strategy. Other times, it can be more lighthearted, like employee Q&As illustrated with their own personal photos of life outside work.
Trust and respect your remote employees
Your internal communications can demonstrate respect for the contributions of employees, regardless of where they’re working. But if leadership harbors an underlying mistrust of remote productivity — or has endorsed overt monitoring of remote productivity, such as software that tracks employee activity — that’s sure to put a dent in employee engagement. People who aren’t trusted are much less likely to be engaged.