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The Power of Human Connection in Remote Work

Are you are an HR manager who you feels your team is connected remotely but disconnected?  Do you want to make a human connection with remote workers?

Human Connection

 

Human Connection is remote work is extremely essential. Let’s look at why and how you can build a human connection within the remote work organization.

 

“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. “

Aristotle, Greek Philosopher

 

Research says that 40 percent of adults in the U.S. feel lonely in general. The reality of remote work is the lack of human connection. There is a tectonic shift from the traditional practice of working with remote work.

With more remote jobs on a rise, the mental health of remote workers will be affected drastically. Then, as an HR manager and CEO of the company, it makes sense to look at people’s lives beyond just profit and loss.

To understand human connection, let’s first understand two important terms

 

1Connection-Disconnection  

In a connected world of gadgets, devices are more connected than the virtual connections humans require. 

A person can commit to being visible online all the time in collaboration tools. But, because of less meaningful conversations and the distance, the relationship remains superficial. 

2Epidemic of Loneliness  

According to Cigna, the loneliness score at the workplace has risen. One factor is more digital interaction and less connection to the real world. 

Employees feel isolated, not heard enough and too disconnected. With burnout on the rise, loneliness is inevitable. 

 

What is the human connection?

The Human Connection Movement is a global movement dissolving barriers between people through facilitating meaningful experiences which empower humans to step into their highest potential. 

 

“People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show they also have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them “

Emma Seppala, Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, Author- ‘The Happiness Track,’

 

To summarize, with better human connection, individuals feel more connected and will cooperate with each other better. 

Gartner research shows better communication and collaboration can increase productivity by 25-35%.

 

Then with better interactions and communication, an employee performs better and hence can push herself to higher limits. 

As an organization, the individual performance reflects on the overall company performance.  

 

Challenges in building human connections

With remote workers, you need to create more meaningful experiences, to have better human interactions. 

This is possible by building a communication framework for remote employees. With the framework, a more profound emotional connection can foster between the employees.

To understand the framework for effective communication and human connection, let’s first look at what stops from adopting the existing method for remote work.

1Making connections

Since everyone works remotely, we tend to recognize employees as names in the organizational chart. 

The real problem is not being able to meet and greet in-person. Collaboration and communication tools can only help in connecting gadgets. Communication barriers hinder fostering human connections.

While you could chat with a picture or communicate with a name, it really becomes difficult to even remember the face of the person without meeting them.

2Building a culture

Employee culture, by definition, is how the individuals work together. In-person, a foosball table or a team game is an easy activity to ensure team bonding. 

The culture is crucial because it affects how employees perceive you and the organization.

Some factors for the culture include flexibility, communication style and the way the organization creates stickiness to retaining employees.

It takes mindfulness, intention, and rethinking how your employees can work together, especially in a distributed setup.

 
3Reading Emotions without reading body language.

The biggest issue with communication in-person is understanding body language. 

Facial expressions, the stress in the eyes, anxious legs etc. there is so much that can be gauged by meeting in person unlike in remote communication.

Hence, as an HR manager, it then becomes essential to develop an understanding of reading written communication differently. 

 

Human Connection

 

4Working in different time zones or flexible schedules

A potential problem with cross-geography teams may work in different time-zones. 

With more remote setups and more teams working in different time-slots or time schedules, in a flexible environment, it becomes challenging to keep everyone on the same page.

 It becomes more challenging to ensure that we communicate all information to everyone precisely in the same way. Working with times in different time-zones also could give rise to over-communication, stressing the employee out. 

So as an HR Manager or the CEO, it is essential to have guidelines around effective communication.

5Appreciating employees in real-time

In-person teams can stand-up and applaud, celebrate an achievement with a certificate or awards. But when remote teams accomplish,  can the same rewards and recognition framework apply? 

Think of it, an emoji depicting clapping is not the same as in-person clapping. One could overlook such a chat message or depictions of appreciation.

 

Tools to build human connection in remote work

 All communication barriers can be worked up by the organization. There are many tools that can help cultivate better communication practices and build a deeper human connection amongst the organization.

 

Human Connection

 

As an HR manager, here are some tools that you can incorporate within your organization.

1Meetings

While multiple unplanned and unscheduled meetings can be a distraction for remote workers. 

An effective meeting can help build a human connection. 

As a framework, an effective meeting should have an agenda and apart from the one on one meetings, setting up meetings between the employees can foster a better connection. 

Here are some best practices for managers to schedule effective meetings for remote work

  • Schedule multiple appointments with the remote team
  • Schedule meeting across groups, across the time zones
  • Ask about the employee’s health and well-being
  • Encourage personal conversations, but don’t cross the line

 
2Collaboration tools

Be mindful of what every remote employee is doing and support them in both chat conversations and collaboration tools. If an employee is requesting for help, connect them immediately with a relevant person within the team.

If there is a notification for review, ensure it involves more people. This way, the employee gets to interact with other team members without feeling isolated.  

Here are some best practices for collaboration tools for managers

  • Be attentive and responsive to notifications
  • Always respond on a positive note and include other people
  • Use video calls and whiteboards to brainstorm and involve more team members.

3Communication tools

The most necessary part of remote work is the use of communication tools like Slack, Skype, WhatsApp with group chats.

It is vital to have constant communication follow to ensure the team is collaborating and is in continuous touch with each other. 

Here are some best practices for using communication tools for managers

  • Foster healthy communication by appreciating, continually keeping the team motivated.
  • Build a virtual community across the workforce so that cross-team collaboration is possible. 
  • ·Try using emojis that show positive reinforcement and make it a practice in the team to use the same for other team members.

4Icebreakers

To foster better interactions as an HR manager, you need to create joint organizational meetings and virtual fun zones. 

Create enough icebreakers to ensure that it involves the team, and the team is comfortable working with each other. There are many video tools like Zoom, Reno, to name a few that can create virtual rooms.

While it is a common practice to do this, there are some ideas to ensure it involves everyone. 

  • Send emails with ‘joke of the day.’ 
  • Play quizzes about each other
  • Create a virtual wall to post team updates.
  • Create virtual lunches, game and movie night

5Rewards and recognition

Team culture can benefit from an effective rewards program. 

Though a manager can recognize and reward and employee,  for human connection, the recognition should come from within the team. 

For local teams, in-person certificates can be distributed by hand, which hang over the employee workstations. This not only showcases the achievement to the immediate team but also the teams in the vicinity.

However, for remote employees, this is not possible.  Hence, for an organization, here are some best practices that be incorporated

  • Employee Dashboards with personal stickers
  • Company-wide dashboards for communication and showcase the top performers
  • Intra-team and inter-team virtual reward stickers.
  • Organization-wide recognition channels and announcements

 
6Invest in an Employee Engagement software

An employee engagement software ties all loose ends that are needed for the remote workers to engage better. Be it remote surveys or providing actionable insights, it helps you build trust with the disengaged employees.  

As an HR manager or the CEO of the company, you will gain insights into the whole organization. 

Employee engagement software delivers the insight necessary to address the effects of low engagement, including insights on employee disconnects or isolation.

PEOPLEBOX: The only Employee Engagement Software
you need for your Remote Teams

This way, you can support the employee development, make effective one on one meetings. 

With an employee engagement software, you can work on the exact issues the employee is facing, within the team. By addressing these issues, you will promote deeper human connections for the team.  

Conclusion

 

“There’s no such thing as compartmentalizing trauma. Be aware. Be alert. And please, ask for help. Human connection has always been central to our work, well-being, mental health, and productivity. Still, as we now work remotely, and often in isolation, it’s essential.”

Simon Sinek, Author and Motivational speaker

 

While these tools are helpful, it is essential to understand that one needs to be human. To humanize business, it takes the same effort as building a remote culture. 

 Isolation and disconnection are primary factors that hinder communication. 

If there is no constant engagement from the HR manager or the CEO of the organization, the employees will be clueless, and it leads to a more significant human disconnect. 

 

 

You may also like to read:

Busting Major Myths about Working From Home

How can HR leaders manage remote teams effectively?

Top 6 remote companies and what you can learn from them

Does working from home increase productivity of your business?

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