Over the years, working from home has proved to be an amazing experience for me. Apart from the advantages of avoiding daily commutes, dodging awkward elevator chats, and spending more time with my dog, the paramount advantage is the flexibility to organize my day as per my preference. This has been a real game changer, particularly considering my tendency towards insomnia.
Regrettably, there is a downside to working from home – it often results in reduced social contact. Our jobs serve as a significant connection to the rest of the world, and when we isolate ourselves from that environment, it becomes tough to maintain the same levels of social interaction.
Ways to Steer Clear of Loneliness and Isolation While Working Remotely
Research has revealed that remote working may have an adverse impact on people, as the absence of regular social interaction can lead to emotions of isolation, anxiety, and negative thinking patterns. This can be a harmful combination that ultimately results in decreased productivity and increased employee turnover.
To tackle the sense of solitude and loneliness while working remotely, collective team efforts are pivotal. Therefore, leaders and managers need to assume the responsibility of taking essential steps to avert such issues. Here are four ways in which remote managers and team leaders can support their teams to conquer the potential isolation that comes with working from home:
Techniques to Overcome Loneliness in a Telecommuting Work Environment
Merely recommending workers to leave the office is insufficient. Instead, keep them engaged within the office.
Frequently, I am tempted to stick to my home office and skip the idea of stepping out for the day to concentrate on work. Although there are many valid reasons for doing so, such as unpleasant weather conditions, a pile-up of work, easily available leftovers in the fridge, and the possibility of World War III breaking out.
The likelihood of remote workers stepping out of their homes without a valid reason is highly unlikely. This behavior poses potential risks and can result in severe consequences. Studies indicate that insufficient outdoor activities can cause an elevation in negative emotions such as sadness and anxiety.
At this stage, remote workers need managerial guidance. Welcoming them back to the office could provide a substantial morale boost that can aid in the transition from working at home. Moreover, there is a gamut of possibilities to explore to make this happen.
Push yourself to take the next stride
Motivating remote team members to step out and stay active by fostering a healthy competitive spirit can work wonders. Although it may seem contradictory, promoting healthy competition among team members can help instill a sense of teamwork and connection.
Motivate your team to participate in a competition to determine who covers the most distance by walking in a specified period. Use a pedometer app or smartphone to keep track of everyone’s daily step count. This can be an excellent way to promote team building, both within and outside the office.
Gift vouchers for coffee shops
If your company has the means, it could be advantageous to offer free lattes at Starbucks or another coffee franchise to your remote workers regularly. This kind gesture will help boost morale and encourage your remote employees to step out of their comfort zones at intervals.
Emphasize the importance of meetings.
It is recommended to motivate remote workers living in the same locality to organize occasional face-to-face meetings. It can be done in a shared workspace, cafe, or even at one of the worker’s homes. Alternatively, virtual meetings via online hangouts can serve as an effective backup plan.
Industry Conferences and Other Events
Contemporary trends show that companies send their employees to conferences, seminars and other events concerning their industry. Remote teams must not be left out and several benefits come with enabling remote workers to participate in such events, such as networking and professional development avenues. This could potentially become the most effective approach to encourage remote workers to step out of their comfort zone and enhance their skills.
Take a respite from your inbox
It’s challenging to imagine a world without email; it’s an effective, user-friendly, and accessible tool. However, its formal tone and lack of personal touch can make it difficult to foster relationships with colleagues, particularly in a virtual team. Therefore, email should not be the only mode of communication utilized in a team.
It is advised that your team utilize project management services such as Slack or Trello, as they are effective and offer a streamlined experience, similar to email. Furthermore, such services encourage superior collaboration and participation among remote workers, enabling them to form a stronger connection and feel part of the same team.
Teams should capitalize on the use of video conferencing in their daily routines by choosing an interactive program that caters to the organization’s demands and financial constraints from the various alternatives available.
Lastly, holding morning calls can be advantageous if all members of the virtual team operate within the same time zone. This assists in fostering a more productive start to the workday for remote workers and motivates them to remain focused on their duties throughout the day.
If there’s no apparent reason for a team meeting, it’s ideal to organize a suitable time for a virtual team to congregate. Celebrating the completion of a project as a team can significantly boost morale, and it’s recommended that remote teams hold gatherings at minimum once a week.
It’s Time for Chatter
Inadequate recreational activities can cause my remote workforce to feel isolated and disheartened. Excessive emphasis on goals and objectives can result in decreased employee satisfaction. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that remote workers have the chance to take regular breaks and partake in recreational activities.
Fostering a laid-back ambiance in remote working environments is vital, as it stimulates open communication and helps individuals feel comfortable with one another.
As team leaders, it’s your duty to set an example when it comes to managing a remote team. Establishing a relationship of trust is crucial and can be accomplished by letting your colleagues understand you on a personal level. Where appropriate, take a moment to inquire about their personal lives, allowing discussions to evolve into other subjects to create a sense of camaraderie.
Utilize Your Interpersonal Skills to Combat Isolation!
It’s crucial for managers to periodically follow up with their remote workers to guarantee their well-being is being upheld during these difficult times. To ensure employees continue to be productive and satisfied, it’s suggested to interact with them every few months to analyze any possible concerns or inquiries, as well as to determine if they need any additional assistance.
Even if they insist that everything is fine, employees will still value your concern no matter how frequently you inquire. It’s still a significant undertaking to pursue, as it cultivates an atmosphere in which staff feel at ease to raise any issues that arise.
Managers must take into account the living situations of their remote employees. Obtaining knowledge on who in the team lives by themselves or with a partner will establish an awareness of who might require more assistance and who may not.
Working remotely is not a reason to work in solitude, but rather an opportunity to enhance team cohesion.
Managers face an incredibly arduous task of balancing the interests of their organization and its employees. During times of pressure, the latter can often take precedence. As a result, it’s crucial to devise strategies that guarantee remote employees feel supported and connected. Once these new procedures have been successfully implemented, it will be possible to return to business as usual.
For the past ten years, our recruitment agency has operated remotely. We have refined, enhanced, and diversified our offerings within a digital environment. When we think of ‘remote’ work, we view it as an inclusive and innovative approach. If you’re interested in discovering more about expanding your team with remote workers, please get in touch with us.