Learning from the World's Biggest Social Experiment
As COVID-19 swept the world and changed our way of life in 2020, organizations were forced to pivot and learn how to adjust to a new world of work. In this time, a lot of things have changed about the workplace, and some of these changes are here to stay. Regardless of your post-pandemic plans, reflecting back on your workforce policies throughout this challenging year can provide important insights into how to carry your organization forward.
For many organizations, remote work is here to stay, in one form or another. As executives figure out what the future of work will look like for their particular organization, it’s important to recognize both what went well and what unique and unforeseen challenges arose in a predominantly remote and dispersed workforce.
In the 2021 State of Workforce Management Report, 80% of human services leaders reported allowing at least some employees to work remotely in the past year.
Social Interaction as an Intentional Strategy
Before the pandemic, social interaction was a natural byproduct of having everyone physically present in the same space. Small talk in the break room, a few minutes of chitchat before a meeting begins, a friendly “hello” when paths crossed. A remote workforce effectively eliminated these forms of social interaction that once happened organically, leading to employees who felt isolated and disconnected from the organization they are a part of.
This left leaders to figure out how to provide for the social needs of employees in new and innovative ways. Many organizations learned that they needed to be more intentional in building relationships within the virtual workplace. Designating time strictly for social purposes and prioritizing emotional connection could help employees connect to each other and to the organization in a remote world.
Building a social connection is especially important for new hires being onboarded as remote workers. These individuals didn’t have the benefit of meeting and getting to know their colleagues in person before the workforce went remote. Therefore, special care and consideration needs to be taken in a remote onboarding process to ensure new employees have a chance to get to know their teammates and connect to the organization.
Trust and Accountability
Remote work has required a different level of trust and accountability among workers and managers. Without everyone physically present in the office, managers no longer have the visibility they once felt they had. However, being able to quantify performance and engagement can help provide a data-informed approach to building trust and accountability – even in a remote world.
Explore more about connecting employees in a remote work environment, including information on data-driven insights, finding a balance, and promoting mental health, by viewing the full guide above.