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Maintaining Workforce Engagement During the Pandemic and Beyond

by Jody Ordioni

Maintaining Workforce Engagement During the Pandemic and Beyond

It is soon going to be one complete year of the new normal. The pandemic has not only reinvented the way we work and interact with each other, but it has also changed our fundamental understanding of what work is. Even if we shift back to the older models of work, employers will have to face a distributed workforce and remote workers. More than 72% of employees have answered in a survey that they would like to continue working from home on some days of the week, even when the pandemic has subsided.

However, the pandemic is not going to disappear overnight, so companies should strive towards technological and cultural changes that will help in increasing employee engagement levels. Some measures that can help in embracing worker flexibility and productivity are:

Communicating Via Video as a Long-Term Policy

As work moved to the remote sphere, communication and collaboration tools became the most important devices for engaging the workforce. Since meetings and interactions had to be online, via video conferencing, it is not a surprise that video meetings saw a boom of 596% during remote work. By making video conferencing long-term policy companies can successfully keep remote workers engaged.

Employee Engagement Through Video Conferencing

Video meetings have to be utilized in the right manner for them to effectively engage the employees. It was observed that in meetings where visual elements were present, employees stayed around for 87% of the meeting, in comparison to employees staying around for only 75% of the meeting in the absence of any sort of visual element. Thus, video meetings and presentations can be an alternative method of ensuring that an efficient and engaging workspace is incorporated into the company culture.

Hybrid Workspaces are the Future

Once the pandemic subsides, the trend still leans towards blending remote work with the traditional office space. As a portion of the employees work full-time in the office and another chunk continues to work remotely, video conferences and meetings will be the method to blend the gap between these two groups. It will also help them feel like a part of the larger workforce and let them collaborate easily. However, the one thing to be kept in mind is that the remote workers should not be bombarded with this communication tool. You can offer them to sit out meetings where they'll just be passive attendees or seminars that don't demand their presence. Such measures will prevent burnout among remote employees and also keep them motivated when joining important meetings.

Increase in Empathy Towards Colleagues

One of the few positive trends that emerged due to the shift to remote work has been the increase in empathy towards one's colleagues. There is a general feeling of being together in this tough time. Not just non-management employees but everyone is being forced to juggle remote work along with their personal commitments. This trend should become an embedded value in the company culture even beyond the pandemic. Managers should strive to be more empathetic to employees at every moment in a workday and inspire the employees to follow their lead.

Find Out Innovative Ways to Reach Out to Employees

If managers wish to engage their remote workers to a greater extent than they should act as if the whole team is working remotely. What this means is that communication should be as seamless as it is when the whole team is working in the same building. Hosting virtual open hours wherein anyone can meet with the managers or request a one-on-one meeting would help to include remote workers. Thus, managers can increase the engagement levels of all kinds of employees by creatively and inclusively involving them in the routine of the company. This practice should carry one even beyond the pandemic.

The Bottom Line

The pandemic has provided an illuminating insight into the relationship between flexibility and productivity. By awarding greater flexibility to employees, companies can ensure greater engagement levels, which helps in retaining talented workers. While the pandemic opened the doors for remote work, it is up to the employers to ensure that cultural inclusivity reaches the doorsteps of the employees and becomes a part of the company's motto.

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