A Guide To Building Employee Engagement In Hybrid Settings
When the majority of workspaces were forced to shift online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees felt a lack of engagement with their colleagues. Then, the situation changed again as employees started going back into the office, and a number of businesses chose to use a hybrid model of work. While a hybrid model offers opportunities for flexibility and rapport, you may be looking for ways to boost engagement more.
Create Hybrid Days, Not Remote Lifestyles
One approach is to assign some employees to permanently work from home and others to permanently work in the office. This approach can leave the work-from-home employees feeling disengaged. The way in which you approach a hybrid model depends upon the needs of your business and where employees are located. If doing so makes sense for the company and the workers, assign employees days of the week to work from home and days to work in the office. For example, some employees might come in on Mondays and Wednesdays, and others can come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays could be a remote day for everyone. With this model, all employees still have an opportunity to interact with one another at work.
Be Firm with Expectations
While the flexibility of the hybrid model is appealing, some employees might misuse the system. Be clear that employees cannot randomly change their work modality for the day. Once employees commit to a schedule, they must stick with that plan. Also, require employees to have their cameras on when attending virtual meetings. Allowing employees to turn their cameras off is likely to lead to disengagement. Further, you can require employees who are working from home to have a microphone on their computers and a quiet place to work. Consider investing in laptops so that you can ensure that all employees have properly working equipment.
Maintain Public Reward Systems
Showcase your employees’ triumphs whether they are working virtually or in the office. For example, if you have celebrations for employees when they achieve major milestones, make sure to plan those gatherings for days when a majority of the workers are in the office. If you give out employee of the month plaques, be certain that those plaques are visible on the wall in the background of your virtual meetings. Another option is to congratulate employees who have received recent promotions through email or on the company’s website. Presenting information this way makes the detail accessible to remote and in-person employees.
Vary Hybrid Tools
Staring at a computer for long hours during a virtual meeting dulls many people’s senses. Instead of using only one method of presentation and communication with remote workers, integrate more collaborative tools. For example, colleagues can use virtual whiteboards or documents to collaborate, and you can develop teams made up of remote and in-person employees. When you have a long meeting planned for the virtual world, break the lecture up by splitting employees into groups to discuss the material. Consider the value and necessity of meetings too. If you want employees to review training material and answer questions to demonstrate comprehension of that information, you might develop asynchronous training instead. Varying the tools that you use can keep employees engaged.
Incorporate Social Gatherings
Remote employees don’t get the opportunity to stand around the water cooler and have quick conversations with their colleagues. In-person employees may miss their friends who are now remote. Set up opportunities for employees to engage with each other in a casual way. For example, you might plan a casual meeting every Friday where employees can just hang out and chat in a virtual space. Another possibility is to plan regular social gatherings to which you all invite all employees. You might also throw a large holiday party in the early winter. Both small and large social opportunities give employees the chance to simply bond with their colleagues.
Building employee engagement in remote settings is important. When employees are engaged with the work and with each other, they can feel less stressed and happier to be at their jobs. Therefore, higher levels of employee engagement can lead to a better work environment and higher productivity levels overall.