Hello fellow homebodies-
These really are unprecedented times that are calling all of us to be creative problem-solvers, give grace to others, find our happy place and remain in peace as much as possible.
Speaking of creative problem solving, my client recently interviewed, made the offer, received an acceptance and on-boarded a software engineer having never met him in person. It was all done virtually from start to finish. On-boarding virtually. Learning a new culture, software product and team…virtually.
Yet, 4 weeks in and everyone is thrilled.
This could have been an EPIC FAIL.
I wanted to better understand why so I reached out to my candidate and asked. His answer: Over-communication.
They got creative and solved the problem by keeping inclusion a priority. He said that the company made it very clear that no question is a bad question. No time was a bad time to ask.
- If he was not sure what to do next – ask.
- If he finished what he had to do ahead of schedule – ask for where he could help.
- If he wanted to connect with someone, anyone, in the organization – ask for a meeting.
Asking for help may seem pretty basic but remember, he is brand new. He is not sure who knows what about what. With the spoken permission to over-communicate he has been catching on quickly. He feels included even though he is physically remote. He is a part of the team.
This month we talk about over-communicating and other ways to keep inclusion a priority so your team can continue to thrive no matter where they working or what is happening in the world.
CEO | Founder of InspiHER Tech, a Laso Company
Making Inclusion Real In A Virtual World
During a crisis, it’s tempting to let some business imperatives slide. Inclusion cannot be one of them.
Inclusion is critical for maintaining corporate culture, which could be vulnerable during times of uncertainty. And it’s even more critical during financial stress. Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work, told HR Dive: “Key metrics related to equity and inclusion predict whether companies will thrive or stumble during a recession.”
So while work has gone virtual, you can still build an inclusive culture that feels tangible. The key is to lead inclusion for your current employees, create inclusion for new hires when they onboard, and give everyone a chance to not just work, but play.
Leadership Must Lead On Inclusion
Whether it’s a virtual town hall or a Zoom team update, it’s more important than ever for leadership to engage regularly with the team with inclusion top of mind.
Git Lab regularly incorporates discussions on inclusion into virtual team meetings. Leaders ask team members to talk about what they feel inclusion looks like and what is important to them as a team to feel included. “The goal is to make sure inclusion is an understood aspect of our team environment.”
In addition to group settings, leaders of remote teams can use one-on-one calls with team members to troubleshoot and show care for individual team members. These check-ins can be an opportunity to “find ways to make sure every single person on their team feels like they have a challenge that they can help solve,” recommends the Harvard Business Review.
Be “Always On” For New Hires
In a remote workplace, it’s essential that on-boarding helps new employees plug into a network. Use as many digital platforms as you can to link new hires to key resources on their immediate team and to significant people outside of their team.
Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work report lists communication and collaboration as the biggest challenges of working remotely. So both team leaders and colleagues need to over-communicate with new team members. Schedule virtual meetings to promptly provide need-to-know information that would otherwise get buried in an e-mail chain. The LinkedIn Talent blog suggests creating an “always-on” video conference room per team, “where team members can linger, or come and go as they please.”
Need other ideas? Offer “3 Question Meetups” with both team leaders and potential mentors, be sure to ask what pronouns new employees prefer, and offer a video tour of your physical workplace so they will be comfortable with that setting when the team returns to the office.
Let Everyone Play
“Hearing real laughter can sometimes go further than reading ‘LOL’ or observing some emoji,” the VP of a company gone virtual told CIO Dive. Laughter and play, even when virtual, help keep everyone included.
Here are a few ideas:
- Encourage virtual coffee breaks, not just between co-workers who already know each other, but between random pairs.
- Sponsor offbeat get-to-know you quizzes and make them team or company-wide.
- Promote existing ERGs or create new ones, so employees can continue to bond over common interests and build organizational skills.
- Add playful elements into video calls such as featuring different employees’ home workspaces.
- Celebrate successes with virtual team lunches or office parties.
- Plan or encourage virtual happy hours or game sessions, and allow them on company time.
Inclusion Rises Above The Rest
“Some teams rise above the rest in times of turmoil, regardless of the challenges,” says Harvard Business Review in an April article on adapting to remote work. Teams that “rise above the rest” are inclusive. They use leadership, communication and play to create belonging that’s real, no matter how virtual the workplace.
Quick Tips on Remote Engagement and Productivity
Looking for ways to keep your remote team motivated? Try these:
Inclusive leadership is more important than ever [Deloitte]
“Even during the toughest of times, we are going to take the step” [HR Dive]
Great mentors show up in crises [HBR]
The global imperative of gender equality [Mercer]
“Any deep crisis is an opportunity to make your life extraordinary in some way.”
— Martha Beck, Author