Keep in touch

Sam Hill takes a look at how to keep your teams connected while remote working


Sam Hill takes a look at how to keep your teams connected while remote working

With the UK now operating in tier systems for the foreseeable future and the government advising employees to avoid their workplace where possible, businesses in the construction and civil engineering sector face a real challenge as their employees and teams are split between locations, with bubbles in one place and individuals elsewhere.

This poses a new challenge for many in the industry, specifically in managing different teams which are responsible for different tasks in a project, so what is the best way to do that in this new way of working?

Employees and teams alike have a need to feel valued and connected to other colleagues, even when working remotely. To aid business leaders in ensuring they avoid ostracising the home workers, this article provides simple steps for team leaders to ensure they keep teams connected.

Technology is more important now than ever before
When part of the team has returned to the workplace, it can be easy to forget to include remote working employees in particular conversations which may happen in passing or casually during the day. For those not in the same workplace, this can be a significant contributor to them feeling isolated at home as they aren’t privy to what is going on in the rest of their team.

To combat this, business leaders should ensure their teams continue to use technology to their advantage. In order to maintain the communication which can be lost with remote working, management should continue to host daily ‘huddles’ or weekly team meetings via video conferencing, where employees can catch up and share what they are working on. This will ensure all employees continue to build connections and celebrate their achievements. To keep up morale, a good thing to do once a week is allow one of these daily calls to be informal where the team plays games or quizzes.

Encourage collaboration wherever possible across teams
When employees work separately in different locations, it can be easy for those away from the team to feel isolated and detached from their direct team. Despite this, business owners should encourage collaboration wherever possible to allow the group to solve issues together and meet targets in a more efficient and effective manner.

Employees within the construction industry who are away from the rest of the team may struggle to speak up when they are facing challenges since they cannot turn to a colleague as quickly to ask for advice and may feel scheduling something in makes it seem like more of an ‘issue’. But by encouraging team members to work together, this issue can be combated as employees build a natural relationship over time where they feel more comfortable reaching out to their peers, while the added benefit of being virtual ‘opens the door’ to new lines of communication between colleagues which may not have ordinarily communicated face-to-face.

Reinforce the culture and focus of the team
While employees are split between home and office work, the company and team culture can begin to slip, so it is important for leaders to ensure they are proactive in nurturing and reinforcing the company culture, since healthy cultures have a direct impact on the performance of teams.

Taking the time to reinforce the vision and values of the company or the immediate team to employees – or even shorter term goals, especially given the current circumstances – will help to ensure the team is in touch with the wider aspirations of the organisation, while noting exactly where they fit into that journey. Coupling this with the open communication of any news or updates relating to the company and team will allow for transparency, an important trait which ensures employees remain loyal to the company. Uncertainty is detrimental to the morale of a team, so any communication should be as clear and certain as possible.

Introduce lunch and learn talks
Lunch and learn sessions are a great way to ensure businesses are stimulating employee engagement and generating a positive team activity. They are typically less formal and can offer employees opportunities to deliver talks on a variety of topics which are directly or indirectly related to the business. It is also an opportunity for updates from different teams and allows every member of the business to have an insight into other teams and what they are working on.

For employees working remotely, this is a perfect way to ensure they are still able to engage in training.

Don’t dismiss the social side of work
Virtual social events should not be dismissed by businesses just yet, despite how laborious Zoom quizzes soon became. For employees still working remotely, these social events are a direct replacement for the usual events and informal drinks after work which they would have otherwise attended. Since employees who have returned to the office may be engaging in more social events in person, it is imperative for businesses to facilitate a space for remote working employees to socialise as well.

Social events are an easy way to create natural conversation opportunities and bring employees together on a far more personal level. Equally these events don’t have to be company-wide. If you manage multiple teams on a project, facilitating a virtual event or space where the teams can all communicate and relax could really aid in developing the success and productivity of the teams and ultimately, the project in hand.

Sam Hill is Head of People and Culture at BizSpace, the UK’s leading provider of regional flexible workplaces who for almost 20 years has been offering office, studio, and workshop units to a wide range of businesses in convenient regional locations across the country. Enhanced customer experiences are at the heart of the offering from BizSpace, we focus on offering simple, affordable, and flexible workplaces to our customers.
For more information, please see: www.bizspace.co.uk