How to Create a Tight-Knit Community in a Remote Workplace Setting?
Even before the pandemic hit, it was challenging to instil a sense of belonging among employees. The COVID-19 crisis exacerbated this task by shifting work to a remote setting and diminishing in-person contact.
Although telework isn’t a novelty, it was a sudden change, leaving many HR departments without the necessary virtual hiring and onboarding policies. As a result, establishing connectedness among staff became even more difficult.
Regardless of how long they’ve been with a company, employees want to feel they belong as that results in an intrinsic motivation boost. No one likes feeling alienated or unable to participate in the community.
Yet, according to research by Dialectic and Jostle, 83 per cent of respondents said they feel disconnected from their workplace culture in remote work. The Monthly Health Index by LifeWorks has shown similar results.
Their September 2021 survey points to alarming data: 71 per cent of Britons indicated that before the pandemic, they felt a sense of belonging and acceptance at work. But in the past month, only 63 per cent felt the same.
How could that affect employee happiness, motivation, and engagement?
Lack of Belonging Erodes the Overall Job Satisfaction
Humans feel an innate need to belong to a social circle, community, or group of people. It makes us feel safe and reinforces our purpose.
As much as people want to feel connected with their friends and family, they also need the same feeling in their workplaces. Sadly, 40 per cent feels isolated at work.
That could be devastating for their job satisfaction, as well as for organisational commitment and engagement. As social beings, humans require social interaction to stay happy and inspired.
When this element is out of the picture, negative feelings move in and cause one to feel lonely, demotivated, and anxious. Although many people struggled with this issue long before coronavirus, the mass shift to telework reduced the number of face-to-face contacts.
As a result, most work communication takes place online, on Zoom meetings, and in chatrooms. That can make it extra challenging to connect with coworkers, understand the company culture, and participate in group assignments.
Moreover, not feeling connected with the workplace could reduce employer promoter score, performance quality, enthusiasm, and overall job satisfaction. It’s why C-Suite and HR leaders should implement strategies that make work from home feel less isolating, or they risk losing employees and revenues.
The statistics may sound discouraging, but there are things you can do to create a connected workplace community in a remote setting.
5 Tips on Establishing a Thriving Community in a Virtual Workplace
1. Raise Awareness and Educate Your Team
The need to belong is a perplexing concept that might require a new approach in virtual workplaces. Not everyone understands its paramount importance, which could affect the efficiency of your employee integration strategies.
Think about your team. Could you say with 100-per cent certainty that everyone knows why building a thriving community in the workplace matters?
Despite centring around people management, HR departments often lack the necessary awareness that could reinforce your initiatives. Because of that, you must first consider does your team have stable foundations and understands why employees want to feel connected to their workplace.
Otherwise, your efforts could fail due to managers focusing on practical matters, overlooking the employees’ need to belong and find their tribe within the work environment. To avoid that, consider group coaching and training.
Professionals could help you educate your team and raise awareness about the importance of a tight-knit workplace community. Moreover, they would learn how to understand employees better and provide them with an engaging telework environment.
2. Make Close Connections a Part of Your Company Culture
Successful business leaders don’t only focus on profits and revenues. Instead, they build their company culture around a thriving community where no one feels left out.
It’s why you should nurture empathetic values and commit to implementing strategies that increase employee motivation, engagement, and purpose. To achieve that, you should create an inclusive culture that celebrates diversity and accepts everyone, regardless of their demographic traits.
That will result in an atmosphere where no one feels isolated and doesn’t hesitate to reach out when needing help. Make it your mission to encourage employees to forge close connections and build their tribe in the workplace.
One of the best ways to achieve that is to offer opportunities for people to meet each other and bond. For instance, you can establish a buddy network, organise virtual gatherings, or increase the number of group tasks.
However, you should also ensure workers trust their managers and communicate with them smoothly. If there’s a lack of collaboration between them, that could affect employee engagement and performance.
3. Provide Well-being Programmes
Regardless of your strategies, some employees will still feel lonely working from home. Although you should consider tailoring the work environment to individual needs, that won’t always be possible.
It’s why you should ensure you have stable well-being programmes and resources in place. That’s a must for nurturing employee wellness and letting them know they can rely on you for support.
An efficient well-being system is easy to access, inclusive and can address different issues people might go through. Hence, your programme should include mental health assistance and physical wellness.
Employees should also know what resources they have at their disposal and how to access them. It’s recommendable to adjust the programme to the virtual setting, allowing hires to meet with doctors, counsellors, and therapists over video and in physical offices.
Ultimately, you should also leverage well-being resources to help people adapt to remote work and bond with coworkers and managers through virtual interactions.
4. Organise Virtual Meet-ups and Events
Even if your company operates remotely, you can still organise gatherings that allow people to get to know each other. The best way to nurture a thriving community in the workplace is by helping people connect.
Consider leveraging technology to schedule virtual events, meet-ups, and engaging events. You can use advanced video systems, HR tech, or collaborative platforms.
Gatherings are essential for new employees and reinforcing the sense of belonging among those with a long tenure. Successful online onboarding requires introducing workers to the workplace, coworkers, managers, and company culture.
Is there a better way to do it than creating thematic virtual events that help you present the work environment to newcomers? Moreover, you could also set up online team buildings or invite employees to solve industry-related challenges over video calls.
Thus, you can introduce the concept of virtual coffee breaks and lunchtime where workers and managers would come together. Lack of physical space shouldn’t hold you from creating opportunities for the staff to bond and feel comfortable in the workplace.
All it takes is a bit of creativity and a solution-oriented mindset.
5. Implement Stable Communicational Channels
Remote teams can only function if they have the necessary infrastructure to support their work, collaboration, and communication. It’s why reliable HR technology is a must.
That isn’t to say you should invest a fortune in expensive software or platforms. However, you must ensure employees can complete and send their assignments with ease. They should also be able to communicate with their team and managers smoothly.
Otherwise, workers could think your company isn’t on top of the task and can’t function in a remote realm. That could affect their performance, motivation, and engagement.
Hence, trusted video and collaborative platforms are essential for enabling seamless telework and virtual communication. You should also ensure every employee can work from home and participate in daily activities.
If someone needs financial support, reach out to them and show your care by providing them with the necessary equipment and supplies. Most people will feel uneasy about coming forward with this problem, but you should show them that you never leave anyone out in your company.
That is how you establish a tight-knit community with human connections at the centre, regardless of the environment. Provide a place and time for people to gather and learn about each other, fostering their sense of belonging.
Remote Work Doesn’t Have to be a Barrier for Developing a Happy Workplace
Undoubtedly, a remote setting makes it more challenging to onboard employees, engage them, and implement successful HR strategies. Instead of perceiving it as a difficulty, look at it as a potential to increase your efforts and analyse your company foundations.
If your HR department understands why human connections matter, they will adjust their actions, ensuring the workplace community doesn’t suffer due to being remote. Because of that, start by raising awareness and educating your team.
shoogle helps businesses connect with their employees through various services, including group coaching and training. By using knowledge to empower people, shoogle allows you to transform and adapt to change.
For those that prefer a more dynamic approach, we also offer Change Sprints, a programme that facilitates transformation inside out. In addition to that, you can also leverage shoogle creation to help employees work on a goal or challenge together or communicate using shoogle community messaging.
With shoogle, the workplace is your oyster, allowing you to explore a plentitude of options that help you reinforce a sense of belonging among employees.
Start building a thriving workplace community. Get shoogle today.