Five Tips To ‘Socialise’ Home Working

25 Mar 2020 | 08.06 am

Five Tips To ‘Socialise’ Home Working

Set up a digital water cooler

25 Mar 2020 | 08.06 am

Researchers at the Norwegian Business School have come up with five tips to help remote workers cope with the new reality of Covid-19 working.

Professor Sut I Wong and Associate Professor Gillian Warner-Søderholm state that working from home can affect communication and leave employees feeling disconnected and unsure about their role.

Their five recommendations to employers for combating this syndrome are:

  • Establish a good routine on how to share information on digital platforms so people don’t get drowned in too much information
  • Set up regular interaction points every day, such as morning coffee Skype meetings or digital lunch breaks to connect with other team members for knowledge sharing, feedback, or just to catch up socially
  • Agree on what it means to be a good digital colleague — clarity combined with respect — and who does what. Clarify the responsibilities each team member has while working from home
  • Celebrate group achievements and company news by sharing a digital message or snap to the team
  • Encourage transparency and inclusion — it is easy to forget to include all members.

The two profs’ study found that remote workers communicate substantially less with colleagues and managers when working from home, and are often left feeling helpless about their work. 

In addition, remote worker may feel unsure about their tasks or how to coordinate with other team members. A sense of ambiguity sets in, leaving them feeling at a loss in regards to motivation and feeling connected.

During a crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic, people are also struggling with the fear of getting sick, the practicalities of a lockdown, and uncertainty surrounding the future.

According to Prof. Sut: “Teams need to set up a ‘digital water cooler’ – a social online interaction point for team members to hang out and compensate for lack of physical interaction. 

“Daily communication with remote colleagues and your manager is even more important in such stressful times. It helps people stay connected and feel part of their work community. This avoids feelings of loneliness, boosts confidence in work, and maximises team productivity. #

“Good communication leads to better understanding of individual tasks as well as improved coordination among members in the teams. Establishing a good communication norm is essential to an effective remote working team.”

In effect firms need to find a digital replication of the social aspects of work, the so-called water cooler or coffee-maker factor. Apart from creating daily communication opportunities among team members and managers via video calls, messaging or apps such as Slack, social half hours or breaks using the same channels, and especially video, are equally important.

 

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