In 2020, the global workforce underwent a systemic shift due to the coronavirus. It not only affected the way business operations are conducted, but also affected the way people conducted their daily lives. Living rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens became home offices, classrooms, and daycares. Every facet of their day-to-day lives was forced to fit inside the confines of our homes. As a result, the time, let alone desire, to engage with their colleagues outside of obligatory meetings became increasingly difficult to manifest.
Companies across the globe scrambled to adjust their business models to reflect the swiftly changing times, implementing work-from-home protocols where possible and enforcing COVID-19 guidelines in unavoidable in-person situations.
Of course, the rise in remote work also meant an increase in virtual meetings. Many people can attest to having a calendar filled to the brim with unavoidable Zoom invitations. Dashing from video call to video call like a chicken with its head cut off, barely remembering to stop, and take a break for lunch.
For many, this has become everyday life. So, it’s understandable that the last thing team members would want to do is carve out additional time in an already hectic schedule to engage with their colleagues outside of their usual responsibilities. Team engagement may have taken a backseat over the last year, but 2021 is the year to bring it back. Let see why.
Think back to a time when getting up, getting dressed, and driving into work was a part of a normal routine. After arriving at the office, one may have spent time catching up with colleagues while preparing coffee in the breakroom. Or maybe, they had chat with their co-worker passing by as they settled in at their desk. These small interactions are now virtually nonexistent, no pun intended.
Those water-cooler conversations built rapport and formulated informal relationships with the people they spent hours with every day. Now, those conversations are replaced with instant messages and emails which may or may not convey the same conversational tone.
According to a 2021 HubSpot survey, 69% of employees say they’d work harder if they felt better appreciated. It goes without saying that bringing back team engagement is vital to gaining and retaining impactful employees. Furthermore, it sends a message to your industry that their organization is adaptable and able to successfully acclimate to an ever-changing environment.
One may be asking themselves: How can they reimagine their virtual workplace successfully? How do they promote team engagement when virtual fatigue has settled in? Would their team members even participate?
These are all great questions, and the good news is there are plenty of resources to help implement successful team engagements in a virtual environment. The needs of individual organizations and teams may vary, but here are a few key factors that will help their business have a successful engagement, no matter the industry.
Know The Audience
Understanding their team and the best way to communicate with them is the first step to any successful team engagement. Get creative with the messages and be sure to include incentives for participation. Recent studies show that 14% of adults employed full-time feel overwhelmed at work. Remember, the goal of the team engagement is not to add to their team’s workload. Instead, to provide an outlet to decompress and congregate together in a stress-free environment.
Use The Toolbox
Even before the pandemic, many companies utilized communication platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Slack to communicate instantly. These tools were put into overdrive when many industries turned to their services to fill in the communication gaps created during remote work.
These platforms have valuable add-on features to promote and gamify team engagement in a way that seamlessly integrates with the platforms their team may already be familiar with. For example, one may be familiar with kudos and shout-outs from one colleague to another on a job well done. Platforms like Kazoo implement a rewards system around this experience to encourage peer-to-peer and team recognition further.
Think Outside the Box
Remember, One is not limited to four walls and a desk. The opportunity to get creative has never been more available. Companies with teams spread across the globe have an opportunity to connect with everyone on the same level and foster an environment of connectedness that may not have existed before.
The important thing to remember is that the world is constantly changing. While this past year may have changed quicker than any could have predicted, one can learn and grow from their experiences, and make their teams better for it.
The way they conduct business may have evolved, but the people who drive their business forward are still the very heartbeat of what they do. Put the people first, and the business’s success will follow.