Making Time for Small Talk: And Other Tips for Making Remote Work a Success – Part I
This is part one of a 3-part series, and the second of several posts addressing remote work considerations arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This series explores tips from companies that have figured it out, and have advice on how to help re-engage your remote workforce, or, if you already have a good system in place, how to make sure you keep employees productive and satisfied.
For employers that did not have much experience with remote work pre-pandemic, 2020 was a steep learning curve. Part of this change has been how to manage – and maintain – office culture and employee engagement when everyone is behind a screen. Because employee engagement and productivity are so directly linked, it is imperative that employers consider both. Leadership should keep in mind that it matters – and is worth the effort – to ensure that workers are in an environment (whether remote or otherwise) where they can thrive, are appreciated, and feel they are providing value. Employee engagement also coincides with better communication, lower absenteeism, fewer health and safety issues, and ultimately, reduced legal risk.
Make Small Talk a Part of Your Meetings. This idea may make many cringe, considering a large number of employees are suffering from “Zoom fatigue,” and the endless work day that bleeds into home and family time. But a small act of deliberately making space for colleagues to just talk, on a more personal level, can increase a team’s connection and bring a bit of levity to what can become overly structured, endless, meetings. This can be as simple as starting a team meeting with a check-in, or an icebreaker, or perhaps including an agenda item that requires participants to share opinions and conjecture. What we have learned over this year of increased remote work environments is that maintaining and growing a company’s culture should not – and does not have to – stop because we are not all in the same room. Casually chatting with a colleague while grabbing coffee, or stopping to talk in the hallway, or catching up over lunch, leads to feeling part of something bigger, sparks ideas, and helps increase happiness and satisfaction at work. Now we just have to do it a little differently, and be more purposeful to ensure that it happens.