Once, not that long ago, it was relatively easy for workers to connect and collaborate. After all, they shared the same space and if they needed to get together to engage on projects, an open room or office was just steps away equipped with all the required resources.
That, of course, was before the pandemic hit and employees began working from home. There always was some level of remote work before COVID-19, but not to the current degree. The challenge for employers has been finding ways to keep workers connected in the new hybrid remote/office environment.
Working remotely is not going to go away, and employers know that. A Statistics Canada survey from March 2020 revealed that 4.7 million Canadians were working from home who weren’t before. Additional research indicates 72 percent of global corporations say that working from home is here to stay.
Audio Visual Technology Keep Employees Connected to Each Other
So, what have we learned along the way about keeping employees connected to each other? Well, we have learned that audio visual technology can go a long way to bridging the gap, and keeping teams together virtually. Consider these current solutions:
- Wireless presentation tools: These resources allow teams to seamlessly share content from laptops and mobile devices to displays in meeting spaces.
- Collaboration and remote conferencing: Office and remote workers can connect with these tools, allowing for intuitive video collaboration.
- Online planners/schedulers: Workers in the hybrid remote/office environment can stay connected and engaged.
- Other resources that have proven effective at keeping workers connected in the hybrid remote/office environment include: noise-cancelling headphones for drowning out distractions, headsets, reliable wifi and a quality router.
Lessons From the Hybrid Remote/Office Environment Include Safety Measures
We have also learned how to keep people safe in the workplace, adhering to cleaning and distancing protocols. However, strategies to keep home office workers engaged don’t only involve technologies; they also include measures to promote physical and mental wellbeing.
“Team leaders have critical roles to play in helping their team stay engaged and focused. People’s ability to work well together as a team requires them being physically, cognitively and emotionally well,” writes Beatriz Arantes, Steelcase WorkSpace Futures Manager.
“In our day-to-day routines, we have learned to fine-tune our surroundings, processes and habits to find our productive balance. This has been thrown into disarray, and you can help people by having conversations about their needs and how to adjust their individual and teamwork practices to create a new balance.”
Steelcase WorkSpace Futures researchers have developed a checklist based on what they call the six dimensions of wellbeing, which are: vitality, mindfulness, authenticity, belonging, meaning, and optimism. Here’s some tips for each category:
- Vitality: Make time to get active. During calls, walk instead of sitting. Take time to look out the window, get fresh air, look at your plants or pictures of nature. Set clear time boundaries for work so that you are not connected and thinking about it all the time.
- Mindfulness: If anxious and worried, focus on observing the details of what you are seeing, smelling, hearing and touching. Breathe slowly and take time to exhale. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system, triggering the healing mechanisms of the body.
- Authenticity: Consider what can be done to make remote video and calls more comfortable, such as not using the camera for some discussions, setting up a camera-friendly zone, and defining specific hours in which you know you won’t be disturbed.
- Belonging: Have some time for idle chat before work. Schedule informal chats with colleagues. Engage in team chats to connect to the greater community.
- Meaning: Create a virtual board for monitoring tasks and progress for your projects. Have regular check-ins to share where you are, what challenges you are facing and celebrate what you’ve accomplished. Consider what really motivates you to get to work each day, write it on a sheet of paper and pin it up next to your computer.
- Optimism: Understand what you are grateful for and take note of them. Develop a habit of helping out someone else in need.
It has been an interesting journey, and as challenges have presented themselves, strategies have been developed to overcome them. Many of the measures created over the past 15 or so months are very likely here to stay. Discover more about the evolution of the Hybrid Workplace by joining us for our next Webinar, The Power of Hybrid, taking place on July 22nd. Register now!