Updated: Mar 23, 2020
5 Key Insights after 3,000 hours of Coaching Remote Workers
The truth is out - working remotely is not the glorious experience we all thought it would be. For anyone who has experienced it, the pitfalls are many: communication challenges with co-workers, feelings of loneliness, distractions at home, not knowing when to unplug...
But, there’s good news: it doesn’t have to be this way.
To help keep my employees feeling connected, supported and on the same page, I designed a virtual forum experience that allows people to feel connected no matter how far apart they are.
The process was inspired by the YPO Forum, a meeting structure used by over 60,000 CEOs to work through loneliness and garner support as part of membership-organizations like YPO, EO and Vistage. My first Forum experience was life changing - I talk about it here.
Over the last three years, we have delivered over 3,000 hours of coaching support for remote workers and teams across the world and have come up with five key insights:
1. Everyone is struggling
Do not believe the glamorized instagrammed photos of hammocks by the sea. We have observed one common trait with all remote workers: the transition to remote work is hard, lonely and confusing for everyone. You're not alone. 2. Set Boundaries & Expectations
The shift to remote work is an adjustment for everyone - from your spouse to your children, from your boss to team members and direct reports.” Critical conversations about availability, working-hours, expectations and support will prevent misunderstandings, hard-feelings and frustrations down the line. 3. Virtual Human Touch Points are important
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is the isolation and loneliness. Creating a dedicated time for virtual human connection is essential. Team members need a safe space to connect with peers, voice challenges and learn from one another. See our guide for creating virtual team forums here.
4. Acknowledging Challenge Combats Depression & Employee-Turnover
We are social creatures and designed to work together and collaborate. The strain and pressures with working in isolation are real. Without an outlet or a way to connect authentically with others, we can convince ourselves that the challenges we are facing are unique to us - which is when our inner critic emerges. Being isolated with these challenges is one of the biggest factors in turnover among remote-workers.
5. Shared Activities Bring People Together - even if it’s from across the world.
People don't have to be in the same physical space to bond over shared activities - doing them at a distance can still forge strong bonds. At my company, we had team members read short 2-3 page articles before each meeting and then we discussed the ideas that came up and our shared experience on the topic. We would then apply the learnings once a day and share in a WhatsApp group. For example, one week we focused on Gratitude - we read an article, had a Forum session to discuss our shared experiences and then everyone committed to sharing one thing they were grateful for in the group chat once a day until the next call.
Creating a dedicated time and safe space for our remote team members had a big impact on our employee retention, engagement and the well-being of our people.
Taking the time to connect, to share about hopes, fears, wins and challenges is the fastest way to building powerful working relationships with the people we work with - no matter how far apart or socially distanced we are.
Our organization, forums@work is offering free drop-in forum sessions to help people connect and cope as we work through the Corona pandemic.
To learn more and participate, visit www.forumsatwork.com