It’s months into the COVID-19 pandemic and everyone is suffering from Zoom fatigue. In fact, overwhelmed by digital meetings, technical difficulties, and the demands of working from home, workers are generally feeling disengaged. They can’t see their coworkers in person, can’t work in a space designed to help them focus, and are living with immense stress and anxiety. It’s not a good situation for anyone, but things don’t need to be quite so dire. There are ways forward.
By consulting current data, talking with employees, and staying flexible, employers can better understand remote workers’ experiences and facilitate meaningful forms of engagement for these unusual times. These 3 strategies, in particular, have proven effective at improving staff morale without demanding more from people who are already fighting an uphill battle.
Cut Back On Meetings
Zoom fatigue is real. During the first weeks of the pandemic, many businesses overemphasized video meetings, failing to realize that glitchy digital calls were an inefficient way to get things done. Add to that all the other activities that moved to video – Zoom happy hours, religious services, school, and playdates – and workers are burned out. In other words, it’s not a good time to experiment with different PowerPoint templates. In fact, whenever possible, skip the meeting or opt for a brief one-on-one chat. You can always cover the rest in an email.
Employee engagement is proven to boost business performance by increasing employee retention, increasing productivity, and reducing absenteeism. Businesses know this – that’s precisely why so many managers jumped feet first into video meetings during those first few weeks. What this overlooks is the fact that employee engagement can take many forms, and it’s going to look different right now than it does when everyone is in the office.
Instead of trying to replicate what engagement looks like under typical office conditions, businesses need to reorient themselves and test new strategies. For example, many have found immense success with social intranet platforms that allow team members to manage task-focused information as well as participate in a peer community. Most importantly, keep engagement efforts functional. Too many businesses have attempted to make remote work “fun” with mixers and games, but your staff would rather just step away and come back refreshed – or as refreshed as possible.
Provide The Right Tools
Intranet is a valuable tool for facilitating staff engagement, but it’s not the only tool that can serve your team. In fact, this is a good time to emphasize staff training. Though leaders may also feel out of their depth during this adjustment, offering staff members opportunities to learn new skills can do a lot to increase their excitement and focus while working remotely. You can even deputize staff to cross-train each other in specific skills, allowing them to work closely with other team members, build that relationship, and learn something new. Introducing new skills during remote work is also a good reminder to staff that things will go back to normal and that you see them as part of your business’s future.
Successfully navigating remote work is hard, and while some workers are slowly moving back into their offices, most businesses will rely on a split office structure for the foreseeable future, and many experts suspect a large number will never return to the office. The more work teams can do to rethink the idea of engagement now, the more likely they are to thrive going forward.