Collector - January 2021 - 42

BUSINESSOPERATIONS

Engage and Connect
Five tips to keep communication strong with work-from-home employees.
By Jill Bjornaraa Rose

I

t has become more difficult than ever
to maintain a strong company culture
and workplace energy when most of
us are working from home. Many of us
are dealing with kids who are distance
learning, spouses working alongside us
and household tasks that jockey for our
attention. The matrix works well for some
and not at all for others (including myself).
However, as a business owner, I have had
to adapt to employees working remotely and
accept that this just might be the new normal.
This is particularly frustrating because I had
just moved our company into a new location
March 1 and had to lay off employees due to
the pandemic on March 22.
Employees are finding new ways to
seclude and find healthy work habitats, but
it can be challenging to feel the connection
that we had when we were in the same
building. The monthly lunch-and-learns, the
after-work gatherings at the bowling alley,
the potlucks and many other fun events have
gone by the wayside. How do we adapt and
stay engaged?
Effective communication in the workplace
is what makes the biggest difference in
running a successful business. You want
to enable employees to learn and feed off
one another. Yet, it is up to us as team
leaders, department managers and company
executives to establish a transparent culture
regardless of where we are working from.
More importantly, we must identify what our
team's roles, responsibilities and expectations
are. This task is a joint effort and it might
take some time to complete. I've learned that
it's important to mix things up and keep it
fun. Here are my tips.

1. PRIORITIZE COMMUNICATION
AND HONOR COMMITMENTS
Working remotely can often lead to
employees feeling like they are out of

42

the loop. Check in with them regularly.
Sometimes a simple daily email or phone call
to see how they are doing or what they might
need can help them succeed for the week.
Hearing company news allows employees to
continue to feel as if they are part of a team.
Communication is a two-way street,
so make sure to listen to any concerns or
questions employees may have. Make a
commitment to follow up and resolve issues.
Meeting for " virtual coffee " can help make
it fun. Some companies use gamification
training tools to keep collectors up to date on
current topics. Microsoft Teams is another
form of communication that can be helpful,
or you may consider a private Facebook
chat room to share personal stories or topics
employees may be struggling with.

2. TEAM-BUILDING ACTIVITIES
Create some fun team-building activities
or small contests online. We use an app
called Kahoot!, which is a free gamebased learning platform that can be used
to help train and engage your employees.
Employees can create " kahoots " for
e-learning, presentations, polls and wordcloud questions. You can host Kahoot!
in person or in a virtual meeting. We've

found that this is a fun way to stay in touch
and learn more with employees.
When you do have video calls with
employees, think of ways to make them fun.
Try changing your profile picture on Zoom
or your email to your most embarrassing
childhood school picture or pick a fun
question to ask everyone.

3. ENCOURAGE WORK/LIFE
BALANCE
These days it's easy to lose your sense of
balance. I strongly encourage employees to
get up and move throughout the day. Take
some time to walk the dog around the block,
meditate, get outside, work out, stretch,
make lunch and eat healthy. It's important
to communicate to your employees that
this is not a 24/7 job. Employees should
be accountable, consistent and work their
" normal " hours yet be able to walk away
from their computer at the end of the day.

4. LEAD BY EXAMPLE TO CREATE
A COLLABORATIVE CULTURE
Employees tend to be more engaged when
they feel like they are part of the bigger picture
and the executive team cares about them.
One way of facilitating this is to have daily or

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Collector - January 2021

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