Using your Tech to Work-from-Home (WFH): Part 7 — Ways to Make Stronger Connections with Your Employees When Working From Home

NOTE to readers: These first two paragraphs of comments in April 2020 lend perspective to a working-from-home [WFH] situation forced upon many. Future readers will also benefit from this perspective whether a WFH situation is part of a planned strategy – or is part of a survival response.

We’ve said it a couple of times now — remote working or working from home is no longer an option but a standard work arrangement for most companies and organizations alike because of COVID-19. This outbreak has affected almost all countries in the world forcing lockdowns and other drastic measures to contain the virus. CDC has announced that there are 632,220 cases as of April 16, 2020 in the US alone.

It’s hard to tell when this will be over. We hope it’s soon but the future is uncertain and difficult to predict since there is no vaccine available yet. Businesses though have to stay afloat for the economy and for their employees. Keeping operations running smoothly is nothing if not challenging. Without proper transition, remote working or working from home is extremely daunting for both the company and the employee.

The following best practices come from extensive research into how you can establish stronger connections with your employees with the current situation.

Revisit your mission, vision, and goals

Before you start discussing the details of work, it’s best to revisit the company’s mission, vision, and goals, and make sure employees are crystal clear about how their duties and responsibilities will align with those statements.

It’s like onboarding a new employee. Everyone has to go through a proper orientation where such statements and core values are discussed and realized with the new employees. By orienting your employees, they will have better guidance in what they are expected to do.

Communicate all the time

Working from home might feel isolating for some employees. Without the usual amount of physical interaction and socializing to which employees are accustomed, your team members can feel high levels of depression and anxiety. Engage your employees with group activities and frequent conference calls. A simple ‘how are you?’ can lighten up their mood and they can become more productive.

Talk about anything interesting that can up employees’ energy levels. Even the small stuff; you’ll be surprised at  how appreciated a small conversation is for your employee. It can be about homeschooling the kids or a clay-motion project you’re working on during your spare time — these are small things that are equivalent to the daily ‘what’s up?”

Keep your communication lines open. Be that leader on whom your employees can depend during these uncertain times. Be honest, responsive, and straightforward with your answers as employees see you being reliable and open for them.

Give proper context to conversations

With chat, it can be difficult to gauge what the other people’s mood is and it’s quite hard to find context clues in the absence of physical presence, gestures, and eye to eye contact. When you see a need to correct or reprimand someone, don’t let everyone in the chat know. You can always set up a time and appointment with your employee and talk to him alone about the issues you have with his work.

Be objective and be clear with what message you want to convey. Remember that in communication, for a conversation to be considered as successful, the burden of responsibility is on the speaker and not on the recipient. Make sure you don’t abruptly ask questions that can stir more questions instead of answers. Ask yourself whether it’s worth asking, or is the method and timing perfect to ask the question? Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient — what would he feel? Is it necessary to ask this? Will I get answers if I ask this question or will it only stress him?

If chats don’t work because they lack emotion, set up an appointment and discuss via a conference call. Don’t further the misunderstanding; it’s completely a waste of time. Instead, say ‘hi’ during the video call and discuss only what is necessary and helpful to the situation.

Support your employees with the right tools

A productive team is a happy team. You want your employees to collaborate well and you want to continue this kind of rhythm – so invest in the right tools that can help achieve these goals.

One such fully functional tool is called everything HelpDesk. It’s one of the cloud-based solutions GroupLink has offered for FREE during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic crisis to help you and your team get started with work and streamline your process for better productivity and team performance and overall customer satisfaction.

Let’s explore some of the features:

  • Auto-assign tickets – It’ll help your organization assign workflow incidents or help desk tickets automatically based on location, category, category option, and more. Determine the technician or professional that should be assigned to each incident or ticket based on skill set, workload, schedule, and other factors. Incidents and help desk tickets can be routed to the ticket pool and assigned by management to participants/technicians or selected by the participants/technicians as they become available.
  • Reporting with True Business Intelligence – Every organization has its own set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to know if they’re sustainable and if the goals are achievable. With this feature, it’s now easy to track and monitor through the built-in reporting tool that allows you to create easy yet powerful graphical reports (HTML or PDF).
  • Dashboard View for Oversight and Team Views – Dashboards are useful for teams because they gauge real-time performance through a customized view tailored to the needs of the department. This will help identify trends so you can quickly respond to critical process issues including work order management, incident management, ticket tracking, and others.
  • Mass Incident/Ticket Update – It’s time-consuming to update incidents/tickets one at a time and we’re at the age where everything should be done in bulk. This feature will help you update incidents/tickets altogether based on a single property or multiple properties such as incident/ticket work time, contact, assignments, statuses, and even history comments.
  • Self-Help Knowledgebase – Key information is collected and stored in the Knowledgebase so it’ll reduce end-user incident requests and decrease future support costs. The knowledgebase is accessible by participants, technicians and end-users, and you can even set up its restrictions only allowing people you know.

There are still more features of this tool that would be helpful to your needs. Other cloud-based tools offered are GroupLink Workflow Process & Incident Tracking and GroupLink for SafestSchools for project-based workflow. All of these are made available at NO COST to new organization entities during, and for 4 months beyond the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic lock-down crisis.

Create dashboards for your employees so they have easy access to proper information and data. Make resources easy-to-use and available to them. Train them if you have to or walk them through the tools you want to introduce. The tools in which you’ll invest today can have a great impact on your team’s overall productivity.

In this unprecedented time, change can be hard and the first few weeks or months might be rough for everyone. Employees are adapting to the new environment, the set-up, the tools, and the routines. Make sure you establish strong connections today so employees feel that they are supported by their employers and supervisors.

Listen to them and be proactive when attending to their needs. Prioritize best practices in your work arrangement and be a good example to your employees. All of these are achievable when everyone is consistent and true to what they do.

How does your team cope in these times? How do you support them? How do you communicate with them? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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