Remote and hybrid work is now commonplace in procurement and supply chain businesses throughout the USA. In fact, according to research by Upwork 2028,73% of all departments will have remote workers by 2028.
As with all aspects of work, some of your team will enjoy and welcome this new arrangement and some will curse the day they converted their kitchen table into a makeshift office. Then there are the new recruits who have gone through virtual onboarding and perhaps have met their team on only a handful of occasions.
It’s a strange situation all around and one we are still getting used to. As business leaders and managers, we must do all we can to make working from home as pleasurable, productive and collaborative as possible. Read on to discover some innovative ways to engage remote and hybrid workers.
Share a story
We are so used to getting to know our colleagues through their actions at work, their approach to projects and so forth that even when we are in the same building we forget they have lives outside the office. When we are working in different locations or don’t see each other regularly this becomes even more common. If your colleagues are willing, organize an informal get-together, preferably in person regularly where you share a story about yourselves. This could be an insight into people’s career paths until now, or it might be an anecdote about a holiday, pass time, hobby or whatever you like. It could even be a fictional ‘crystal ball’ tale about what might happen in the future.
Include other people
Again, if your team is keen, try opening up the meetings to children, pets, partners, and other members of their household or social circle. Many of us have seen kids, cats, coffee-making partners, and so on in the background on Zoom meetings, so why not bring them into the fold? Naturally, this won’t be during professional work discussions, but a little time at the end of meetings or at a team get-together could really help to build relationships and bonds between colleagues.
Invite a guest speaker
As with the previous point, this is probably most effective when done in an informal setting otherwise it will feel like just another webinar or presentation. Ask your colleagues what subject matter they are interested in or if they know any cool local personalities who might be keen on doing a talk or presentation about their life or area of expertise.
Get different people involved in onboarding
New starters will no doubt meet their manager and possibly an HR or personnel representative as part of their onboarding. But, if you want to give people a real flavor of your firm you could introduce one or two other people during the induction. A mix of professional and personal content would work well here. For example, Sarah from Sales could present a talk about her job and the team she works in; a typical day or week in their life for example. Sarah might then talk about how she arrived at the company, what she likes to do outside work, her dream holiday and suchlike.
Encourage interest groups
Working remotely or in a hybrid situation greatly reduces the opportunity for people to identify with like-minded people and split into natural groups and friendships. If you know a few of your employees are interested in cooking or food you could encourage them to start up a virtual recipe exchange or discussion group. They might even be able to meet in person.
It goes without saying that all of the above, and any other initiatives will only work if your team is interested and enthusiastic about the proposed activities. Enforced fun isn’t fun for anyone! Ask them what they would enjoy and benefit from and go from there. It’s likely you’ll need to create a bit of momentum to get things going and make sure you check in with staff from time to time to see how they are getting on. A bit of creativity and a healthy dose of motivation and you should have a great program underway in no time at all.
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