Keeping associates engaged while working from home

Over a year into work-from-home orders, many leaders are wondering how to keep their people engaged in the business from a distance. Your company may have gone on lockdown, but prioritizing your people will unlock their engagement.

Work as we know it has permanently changed. Whether your associates will ultimately return to the office or transition to a hybrid model, one thing is clear: The engagement of your people has never been more important. How do you keep them feeling connected to the company when they are distanced from it — and from each other?

Here are four tips to help your team members feel committed and effective.

Focus on the fundamentals. While remote working has created many changes, the core components that drive associate engagement remain largely the same. Start by asking for feedback from your team on what’s working well, and what you can collectively do to improve. By taking action on high-impact ideas with low complexity, you can drive progress in short order. If you are in doubt, start by doubling down on clarity and purpose. Remote work can often lead to less feedback and fewer conversations. Reach out to ensure your team members know that they are priorities and how their work makes a difference for your business.

Use technology to your advantage. The now-ubiquitous video call gets a bad rap. However, when used thoughtfully and with purpose, it can be an effective tool for enhancing communication, collaboration and connection. I hold monthly team meetings to share business updates, recognize associates for their work and answer questions. Consider adding five-minute breakout sessions that pair off associates for “quick connects” and plan moments in your agenda that enable open dialogue.

But also keep in mind that Zoom fatigue is real. Permit team members to turn off cameras for specific meetings. Better yet, encourage them to push away from their computer screens and take calls outside on a nice day to get some fresh air.

Demonstrate trust and flexibility. Some leaders grow uneasy about not being able to monitor team members remotely. Treat your people like the trusted associates they are by focusing on output instead of face time. Prioritize your team members’ well-being by clarifying that it’s OK to step away for a doctor or vet appointment, or get a child to an activity. Go one step further and build flexibility into your ways of working. Simple tactics like 15- or 45-minute meetings rather than 30 or 60, can reduce meeting fatigue and lead to higher productivity.

Make it fun. Safelite has a people-first philosophy that shined during the pandemic, and we aimed to preserve touches of normalcy wherever we could. Throughout this time, associates still enjoyed two paid days for volunteering, our monthly wellness newsletter, brief quirky surveys (think voting for your favorite bagel flavor or outdoor activity) and social committee book clubs and lunch and learns. Injecting a bit of fun into the workday gives team members a welcome respite and helps associates bond over the shared experience.

When you keep people your top priority, their engagement will soar, no matter their physical distance.

Ryan Trierweiler is Executive Vice President, People & Leadership, at Safelite