Remote engagement: COVID is challenging us to change
Remote engagement: COVID is challenging us to change
These are challenging times. I am challenged. My family is challenged. Our community is challenged, and the teams that look to me for leadership and stability are challenged. This too shall pass but the here and now is extraordinary and has forced an interesting form of self-reflection. More specifically, the things that I’ve come to value the most have significantly more meaning in recent days, such as my health and the freedom to personally engage with customers, employees, and in the mission of my company. These are challenging times.
We exist to help companies reinvent the way that work gets done with software. We create a more fluid, fun, and dynamic form of employee engagement by promoting new and evolving technologies. We value our customers, and rally to hire and retain the very best employees in the industry to serve and support each of them. It’s an incredibly rewarding endeavor where the constant change, even the unknowns of tomorrow, creates a reverse inertia. I wake up each day with genuine excitement about solutioning with customers during change.
Tomorrow is burdened with many unknowns but I’m optimistic that we can, in fact, reinvent work yet again, and engage the employee in more effective and lasting ways. More specifically, the quarantine of the remote office has been a new and forced reality for some. However, companies have been trending away from brick and mortar for quite some time. I believe that we’re ready. It’s an opportunity to achieve better work-life balance and maximize productivity for each hour worked. That said, it won’t happen easily or without preparedness.
Let’s explore a few areas where leaders can promote engagement during this period of change.
Remote work and work from home arrangements have multiple benefits for both the employee and for overall corporate productivity. Increased job satisfaction, fewer vacation days, and decreased overhead costs, are a few examples. To achieve these outcomes, there needs to be top down sponsorship in favor of remote work, and the necessary infrastructure to actually get it done. This becomes increasingly important as the sheer volume of employees shift from office cube to the dining room. Empower your teams and remove the stigma of remoteness.
Please don’t read from a script. Be authentic. Come from a place of realness about the goals of the team or company. Whether in times of crisis or in a steady state, leaders should talk openly about the good, the bad, and the ugly. This dialogue should be equal parts process oriented and outcome based. Without iterative measurement of small achievements, or setbacks, there can be no readiness for the big opportunities of the future. Talk, and talk frequently in both a leadership capacity and as a peer. Remote engagement requires constant, real dialogue.
For many employees, often strong performers that are fiercely independent about their work, explaining away the nuances of their job in a transparent manner can be a challenge. However, in a remote work environment doing so is highly important. We are often insecure about the things we can’t see or touch – it’s hard to trust. Leaders should model effective behavior and provide adequate and frequent opportunities for everyone to share the finer details of their work, challenges ahead, and where additional support or resources might be necessary.
We should acknowledge that distractions in a remote work setting are very real. It takes a different type of discipline, a commitment to a scheduled cadence each day, that brick-and-mortar office work doesn’t always need. Knowing that flexibility is almost limitless, it’s critical that leaders establish clear expectations for getting work done, guidance on how that work should be done, and a wide variety of events to share progress toward stated objectives in both a formal and informal way. Engagement requires an unwavering commitment to cadence.
I want my employees to know what I know, at the very moment that I know it. While that may not seem plausible, remote work actually affords greater opportunity to learn from each other, and subsequently absorb more from peer experiences. We can be interchangeable. Morning commutes, quick lunches, and rushing home in the evening, only to do it all over again the next day, can be a blurry mess. Creating a growth culture where the entire (remote) organization has one shared experience, can be a reality with more time in the day to commit to each other.
I’d rather lose together than win alone. In a remote work setting, expertise and competencies are often hidden in the most unexpected places. This is especially true in large companies. Leaders of all varieties should endeavor to seek out talent, wherever that talent may reside. Invite everyone, exclude no one, and be purposeful about extracting insight and commentary from cross functional sources. If leaders do this with frequency, collaboration becomes the standard and information sharing becomes free-flowing, uninhibited, and much more valuable.
In no particular order, these are some of the principles that I’ve used to create high performing remote teams for the last decade or more. During these challenging times, I’m personally recommitting to each of them while being more empathetic, and contextually appropriate to the circumstances of the individual employee. We are all being affected differently, but make no mistake, our commitment to customers is unwavering. Leaders will lead, workers will work, and while our keyboards may be remote, we are more eager than ever to change with you.
These are challenging times, but this too shall pass and communities will be stronger as a result.
Written by: Scott Morgan, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Infor
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