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Keeping the Connections Real

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Keeping the Connections Real

In this concise post, Daniel Markovitz offers practical solutions to help connect the work-from-home employees to those in the office. 

A client of mine has started to bring some of their employees back into the office. They’re not ending their work from home policies, but increasingly higher ranking staff are coming back to the mothership, particularly for important meetings. 

This shift makes sense for many reasons, but it’s having three unfortunate side effects. First, the work from home employees are beginning to have middle school flashbacks, where they’re definitely not part of the cool crowd, and they have to eat lunch at the cafeteria table with the dweebs. Second, they are, in fact, being left out of many discussions and decisions — not out of malice, but simply out of benign neglect. When everyone is working from home and meetings are conducted by Zoom it’s easy to remember to bring everyone to the virtual table. But when you’re in the office, it’s even easier to forget your cohorts who are laboring at home and just have the meeting with the people who are physically present. Third, the remaining work from home employees are missing out on the incipient burbling of water cooler conversations. This is bad for morale and bad for business. 

This is an area where some simple visual tools can help:

Put photos of all employees from the team in the conference rooms typically used for their meetings. The photos will serve as a reminder of the people who aren’t present, making it easier to remember to either bring them into the meeting via conference call, or update them after the meeting. 

Hang flip chart paper and markers on the walls of hallways or rooms where casual, ad hoc conversations commonly occur. Give the paper a title like, “Water Cooler Updates,” and encourage people to scribble interesting ideas, comments, discussions, issues, etc. on the paper with a note stating who it’s for. On a weekly (or semi-weekly) basis the manager should hold a department all-hands meeting and share the water cooler updates with the team.

Obviously, these aren’t perfect solutions to the “out of sight, out of mind” problem. But the divide between the work from home tribe and the work at the office tribe is likely to get worse as we continue to adapt to life during Covid. These two visual tricks are a way of blunting the effect of the problem, building greater team cohesion, and increasing team alignment.

 

Key points include:

  • Boosting morale
  • Visual tools
  • Building team cohesion

 

Read the full article, Don’t Let This Happen To Your Work From Home Colleagues, on MarkovitzConsulting.com.