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  • Writer's pictureThe Social Craft

Reinventing teamwork: How to boost engagement in the virtual workspace

From reviving work culture to upping employee morale by bringing team building online, as Head of Operations, maintaining engagement in the world of virtual working is a must.


It’s been 1 year since I joined The Social Craft as Head of Operations. Being a startup, our workforce is gradually growing with employees scattered across the country. Therefore, much of our team engagement happens through a screen.


As the Head of Operations for a virtual workforce, I am tasked with ensuring the effective management and collaboration of all departments. My role involves being an effective communicator, a multi-faceted problem solver, and a creative decision-maker. I am responsible for cultivating relationships with a variety of stakeholders, mediating collaboration between departments, and unifying a remote team. My overarching goal is to serve as the connective tissue between various team members to ensure the successful completion of projects.


Offices have closed across the globe to meet the demand for remote working opportunities and embrace digital capabilities. Consequentially, everything from the seemingly insignificant conversations at the water cooler to major boardroom meetings have come to a halt. While some of these interactions may seem insignificant, they’re the bread and butter behind what gives a workplace its culture.


“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a famous quotation by late business management consultant, Peter Drucker. Indeed, it is the driving factor behind employee engagement, job satisfaction, productivity, retention rate and successful recruitment efforts. Afterall, workplace culture has the power to either reinforce or erode your organisation’s long-term goals, making it just as crucial as your overall business plan.


With remote working still a new concept to so many companies, it’s time we developed better strategies to keep our employees happy and engaged.


5 ways to increase employee engagement in the virtual workspace:


Work on your induction processes

Starting a new job is daunting, but it’s even more so when entering a virtual workspace for the first time. Creating a structured online onboarding process amplified by the incorporation of friendly video introductions, online workshops, Q&A sessions and mentorship programs, can help ease the transition. If curated well, it can remove some of the frustration and worry that goes with meeting new people and using new tools, systems and tech. Depending on the job requirements, dedicate the amount of time needed to this process so that new employees can confidently stand toe-to-toe with their colleagues.


Create a “virtual water cooler”

Much like the chit-chat that happened around the water-cooler in offices, a virtual water-cooler space is a platform where colleagues can connect around subjects that are not “task focused”. A team group chat dedicated to reaching out for support, debriefing after a challenging day or simply to share entertaining quotes, videos or songs, can bring back the fun into employee communication.


Virtual team building

With colleagues spread across the country (and globe) and the unexpected nature of travel bans and lockdowns, teambuilding can still be achieved when you venture online. Whether it’s in the form of an online yoga class or grouping into teams for a virtual game night, it’s a fun way to let loose and focus on the social aspect of work rather than performance and strategy. These activities help build strong relationships amongst team members, increase morale, open channels for communication and engagement and bolster productivity as everyone works as together.


Discuss how to take action

Emphasising profit goals, KPIs and analytical data over defining what is required from each team member to achieve these objectives can quickly start to cloud a company’s vision. As the demands for success become louder, the “how-to” aspect gets ignored and breaks in communication and confusion around expectations begin to mount. The specifics of task design and the procedures that will be employed to fulfil them should therefore receive additional attention.


Upskill

Be willing to move with the times. Agility, adaptability and growth are a must when your workspace is digital. Invest in the learning and development required to remain competitive within your field and bring your leadership and employees up to par with the world around them. Whether that be in the form of investing in innovative technology to incorporate into your operations or having regular training sessions using the latest tech tools and software - opportunities to be upskilled are a part of what keeps employees motivated in their roles.

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