The digital workplace is better for your business, is beneficial for your employees, and is only expected to increase in prevalence.
The latest telecommuting statistics from GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com show regular work-from-home, full-time positions have grown nearly 10 times more quickly than the rest of the workforce, and up to 90 percent of employees want to work from home at least part of the time. Think about the advantages this presents your business:
- More results, more quickly, as work schedules become more flexible
- Employee happiness and engagement increase, which means productivity, profits, customer ratings, among other stats, are more likely to increase
- Your business stays competitive, as Deloitte reports nearly two-thirds of professionals would take a lower-paying job if they could work away from the office
As your physical office experiences adjustments in the amount of people in desk chairs at any given time, sometimes relationship building suffers when in-person interactions are limited. Don't let the gains you achieve through digital real time collaboration negatively impact the unity of your team. Here's how to strengthen your team members' connections in a digital workspace.
#1 Use a Knowledge Sharing Tool to Share Industry Ideas
An internal knowledge sharing tool like the News Feed from Smarp enables your employees to engage in continuous education by staying up-to-date on industry trends. Since users are able to create their own content and share it with their employee peers, a tool like this helps to show your team members the talent that lies within your organization. As users are able to comment on and interact with posts, connections can deepen and positively impact business.
A report on digital workplace and culture by business consulting firm Deloitte finds social media has a positive effect on how people collaborate at work, since ideas can be shared more quickly. By integrating the knowledge sharing tool with the social media networks your employees are already using, like Smarp does, content that is shared within a company gains extended reach as it's shared across social. This can also help to boost the reputation of your business, as employees share valuable content to engage their own followers.
#2 Use an Internal Communications Board for Company Messaging
One of the most commonly cited challenges of working outside the office is a feeling of disconnection. Misunderstandings that occur because of misconstrued or too minimal communication can cause confusion or mistrust. It's vital for digital workplace companies to emphasize clear communications across departments, so stakeholders feel they are still able to contribute effectively away from the office and fully understand developments that are happening.
An internal communications board, such as Slack or Yammer, can allow teams to transparently see where individuals are in terms of progress on projects, as well as get clarity into what they're working on. While talking face-to-face may not be occurring as frequently, having the capability to contribute ideas, questions and insights in a collaborative online setting helps digital workers feel like meaningful team members.
#3 Host Regular Video Chats
While research studies have shown problem solving is more efficient in a digital setting, more positive impressions are formed of a person after interacting with them face-to-face compared to online. A study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior found those who communicate face-to-face compared to online also have greater self-other agreement. Even a business that has completely embraced a digital workplace model still needs face-to-face interactions to thrive.
Video chats can help. Businesses that rely on visual elements to propel their operations, such as designers and product developers, can also use video chat to easily convey ideas in real time no matter where they are. Look for a solution that enables participants to ask questions or add comments in real time so they can contribute, such as Skype. Some ways to incorporate video communication in your business include:
- Weekly team meetings over video
- Quarterly company-wide video summits, with segments hosted by various department heads
- Promotion of regular video communication among teammates, such as in situation where a 15-minute face-to-face conversation will bring more clarity to an issue compared to what hours of email communication would
Archive video chat meetings so those working remotely in off-hour time zones can access them later. Provide your employees with reliable technology so they can log in to a video chat easily and securely.
#4 Schedule Face Time with Team Building and In-Office Work
Giving employees a supportive setting where they can get to know each other on a deeper level outside the office has great benefits for your business. Employees are able to learn more about their coworkers, which can increase patience and understanding in a work setting. Trust building exercises show your team members they can rely on each other, while participating in a shared experience can increase bonding. The positive sentiment that is experienced at a fun activity can be carried over into office operations, through employee recognition and milestone celebrations.
Fast Company recommends bringing together all employees at least a few times a year. In addition to coming together outside the office, giving remote employees the opportunity to work in the office for a few days or weeks a year gives them more insight into day-to-day, in-office operations. Flying in employees from around the globe to your corporate headquarters can give your team valuable face time, so they can successfully brainstorm together, tackle challenges, and contribute ideas on how to increase efficiency.
#5 Ask for Input
Make your efforts for strengthening interpersonal relationships at your business more effective by asking for ideas from your team before you implement a strategy. Your employees will feel valued because you are listening to them and using their advice, which can make them more likely to participate in your endeavors.
As you introduce elements like digital knowledge sharing, online collaboration through a professional social network, video chats, off-site team building, company summits and more, continually ask for feedback to optimize your efforts. Your team may have ideas for tools you can use, or may be able to share examples that worked for them in a previous organization they were a part of.