The Paradox: How to build inclusion AND shelter at home?
It can seem like an almost insurmountable challenge to make your team, other employees, leadership, your clients, and your vendors feel included even while being far apart.
Your role as an IT or HR leader, now more than ever, is one of caretaker.
Simply asking, “How are you? Is there anything you need that I might be able to help with?” can make all the difference in someone’s day.
Ask yourself, “What can I do today to ensure those people I am connecting with feel included and know they belong?” Then take action.
This month’s Belong gives you 3 guideposts– bigger ideas with practical applications- you can use right now to create inclusion and show caring even as we all hunker down at home.
Stay InspiHERed AND Be Care-FULL!
CEO | Founder of InspiHER Tech, a Laso Company
Taking Belonging Virtual
“It’s a miracle you can run a company this way.”
So says Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, to the New York Times on the sudden transition to what seems like the entire world working from home.
Alphabet’s Google products, including G-Suite and Hangouts, are part of the “miracle” enabling this switch. The right suite of tech tools, such as document sharing, company-wide chat and a video conferencing platform, is clearly essential to keeping remote teams focused and productive.
But another essential to helping virtual teams work is not so much a miracle but rather the decision to create belonging for a remotely connected team.
Here are three ways to build belonging even when everyone is physically apart: Be transparent, over-communicate and focus on inclusion.
1. Be transparent
Especially during a crisis, leaders and managers need to “welcome complete transparency” from their employees, and provide the same in return, says Wesley Connor, vice president of global learning and development for Randstad Enterprise Group, in an interview with HR Dive. “Companies should be direct and honest in communication and create a safe space for all employees to ask questions.”
Remote teams need a playbook, and transparency is critical. “There should be transparency when establishing work hours, internet usage parameters and goals for completing tasks,” recommends Anita Williams Woolley, a Carnegie Mellon business school professor. “It’s important that everyone understands and has the same goals and objectives because there are fewer opportunities to recognize and rectify unclear goals in remote work.”
Randstad’s Connor urges that “information always be accessible. Create centralized channels of information where talent can easily access how-to guides and FAQs whenever and wherever they need.”
In the absence of face-to-face contact, and the informal in-person conversations behind so many decisions, companies need to leverage the many video conferencing apps and other technical tools available in order to make their online interactions go deeper than simply meetings and reports.
Kirsty Ford, director of people operations at DigitalOcean, recommends taking advantage of “virtual watercooler” platforms that provide space for online employee hangouts, coffee chats, lunches or happy hours to build much-needed community and help a remote workforce avoid an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.
3. Focus on inclusion
When a company has to suddenly transition to an all-remote workforce, “collaboration, morale, and belonging can all take a hit,” observes Samantha McLaren, writing for the LinkedIn Talent blog.
This doesn’t have to be the case. Inclusion culture can thrive in a virtual setting. Fast Company recommends that virtual meeting facilitators make a list of everyone on the call so they make sure they are hearing contributions from everyone in the “room.” “Be more proactive in calling on people” so they don’t “fade into the background.”
Create inclusion for remote teams by building universal experiences into the workplace. McKinsey recommends team learning where “everyone takes courses together and collaborates in virtual formats.” Software developer CleverTech uses shared content such as TED talks and online gaming to encourage deeper relationships.
It’s really all about caring
Transparency, communication and including each person on a remote team are all part of a larger culture of caring and belonging. Says Torres of CIO Dive, “Extend grace and accommodate to the unexpected, especially as remote work redraws what an employee’s day looks like.”
How to keep video conferences organized and inclusive [Fast Company]
Remember to laugh [Forbes]
Yes, you can be remote and still work on inclusion [Shield Geo]
From virtual coffee breaks to online gaming, how to keep the team together [LinkedIn Talent Blog]
“In times of crisis people want to know that you care, more than they care what you know.”