We asked Marie-France Émond, CHRP and Vice-President Operations/HR at Indigo Consulting, which has around 40 employees in Montreal, Toronto and Chicago and has always operated in virtual mode. She suggests five strategies that allow us to forge links, even at a distance.
Count on motivating managers
In a context of long-term remote working, the role of managers is bound to change or, at the very least, to specialize in order to ensure the cohesion and continuation of the company culture. The needs will not be technical: the company will have to seek to appoint managers who are very strong in communication, leaders who will also have to be able to empower employees while listening to their needs.
Organize regular virtual meetings
When the work is done remotely, it is essential to plan at least one meeting each week where employees can take stock and keep abreast of the progress of their files. “Reserving a personal component for these exchanges should also be thought about,” Marie-France Émond recommends. “For example, go around the table to let each person share some good news or something new they have learned.”
Create a virtual space for informal discussions
It is easy to create online discussion spaces to foster social exchanges all through the week. “The idea is to ask yourself how to replace the spontaneous discussions in the corridor or around the coffee machine,” the human resources advisor points out. Virtual themed forums can even be offered according to the employees’ interests – a space for cycling enthusiasts and another for discussions on the current TV series, for example. These tools can also come in handy when the time comes to onboard new employees, since remote working does not necessarily give them the opportunity to connect.
Find the right technological tools
Zoom is good, but there is a whole technological world to discover in order to facilitate virtual exchanges and improve social cohesion in the office. Whether it’s for calendar sharing, video conferencing or note-taking, there are many choices and every tool has its own uniqueness, from Slack to Trello, and including Teams or Gira.
Staying tuned to needs
Are employees happy with their lot? “To find out if their work environment is still right for them in the current circumstances, you have to ask them the right questions,” says Marie-France Émond. “Some people are not made for remote working. They need a social network, some recognition and support and that’s okay.”