Supporting Remote Workers

In 2020, things have changed. For the most part, the work we do, the way we work, and where we work has changed suddenly and unexpectedly. Many people are now working remotely, and this was not something that they had planned for or had access to previously. As you would expect, some people are loving remote working and some people are not enjoying it at all.  
One of the biggest changes that has occurred in this new environment has been the removal of incidental communication. This incidental communication in the usual workplace includes asking your colleague who sits near you a quick question, catching up with a colleague in the lunchroom, having a hallway conversation which sparks an idea or solution to a problem or simply asking someone how their day is going while you get your coffee,…
With the removal of this incidental communication, intentional communication is needed more than ever. When your team were working together in the same office, fortnightly team meetings and one on one meetings with a manager would have been fine. When working remotely from home, if people are only communicating meaningfully with their team or colleagues once a fortnight, the feeling of isolation is going to become even greater. People need connection, and in this new world of remote work, even the strongest introverts are starting to wonder if maybe they like people after all…. 😊
So what needs to change? Well, in a nutshell, communication in this new environment needs to be intentional, frequent, and face to face (virtually) as often as possible. I would recommend short daily team meetings (such as 15 minutes) and quick one on one check-ins with direct reports if possible. Naturally, if you have a really large team, a daily check-in with every team member is not going to be practicable, so consider your own context and adjust accordingly.
I have been truly amazed by the innovation and proactive problem solving undertaken by so many people in the last few months. People have shown resilience, flexibility, and adaptability and are taking on new challenges with gusto. However, the impact of the lack of incidental communication might be going unnoticed by some, so remember; for everyone’s health and wellbeing; Social Distancing is good, Social Isolation is not.

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