Monday, 18 may 2020 | Brenda Rodríguez López
Teleworking poses several technical and formal challenges, but perhaps one of the most difficult challenges to achieve has an emotional component: getting employees who work remotely to feel really engaged with their companies. This sense of belonging is really difficult to stimulate when workers do not commute to their workplace, and only do so in rare occasions to deal with very specific procedures. Even when teleworkers show up at their headquarters frequently, they may feel detached from the rest of their teams and, consequently, far from their companies. There are also teams which are made up exclusively of remote professionals or leaders who, due to their specific position or circumstances, are forced to conduct their teams remotely. In these cases, people might feel even further away from their companies and their respective goals. How to change this situation? How to foster a feeling of belonging in the distance?
Jack Dorsey, cofounder and CEO of Twitter, sent an email to his employees informing them that, except in very specific cases, they could work remotely from now on. This situation, created as a result of the spread of COVID-19, has pushed many companies to bet on teleworking once and for all. There will be many companies that, like Twitter, will probably change their work methodology due to this period of confinement. In fact, the study Teleworking in Spain conducted by the Bank of Spain shows that 30.6% of current jobs could be done from home, 60% in the case of high qualified positions.
Given that the new work environment is going to be somehow altered by this rising trend, future leaders should prepare now to manage increasingly heterogeneous and complex teams. In order to conduct them successfully, it will be essential for them to promote a sense of belonging in all team members, in particular in those who are geographically separated. How to achieve this?
Strengthening ties, forgetting myths
Face-to-face communication also works remotely
Keeping in touch is easier in this digital age: emails, social networking sites, instant messages, etc. Nevertheless, communication may be affected negatively when this is the only way of contact. Where possible, leaders should organize, albeit occasionally, face-to-face meetings and, alternatively, video calls. In these meetings, participants can establish a closer and more direct communication. They can better observe the reactions of their interlocutors, interpret the context and non-verbal language, adopt a more relaxed tone and even, when appropriate, socialize.
Working longer hours does not mean working better
According to the analysis carried out by NordVPN and mentioned by Forbes, the working day has increased by two hours in Spain due to the recent implementation of teleworking policies. The culture of presenteeism, the complex work-life balance, the fear of losing jobs, the learning process to use new tools and the stress generated by this crisis are the main reasons of this problem. This does not mean that they justify it. Teleworking is not about replicating the failures of in-person work. This would only discourage employees and make them fell further away from their companies. On the other hand, remote work may be really advantageous when is oriented to goals and results. It could contribute to a considerable increase in employee productivity.