Did you know that only two out of ten people have a close friend at work?

Today, we spend less than an hour with our coworkers outside the workplace, compared to nearly two-and-a-half hours in the 1970s

With major shifts to remote work, this has only gotten worse. We spend most of our days interacting through video calls and emails without any in-person human interaction. And the pandemic has increased social isolation by 61% since 2019. 

This not only impacts the mental health of employees, but also the quality of work. It is important to recognize that employees want to be seen, heard and valued.  At NEWaukee, we have developed a system to help engage remote employees by building trust and authentic relationships. 

This is important because it builds psychological safety for the employees within your remote environment. Psychological safety allows team members to feel comfortable, take risks and be vulnerable with each other. 

To build psychological safety, we have to value and invest in the mind, body, and physical health of our employees over the physical infrastructure where they work. 

Over the years, we have invested so much money and energy in physical spaces (open offices, conference rooms and lounges.) However, many companies have overlooked the intangible systems and processes that make trust and psychological safety possible in a distributed workforce. 

Read our 10 tips for improving your remote employee engagement: 

1. Create intellectual infrastructure. At NEWaukee, one way we do this is by having every member of the team develop a personal user manual. These documents include answers to questions like: What are some honest, unfiltered things about you? What drives you nuts? What is your work style? Everyone has access to one another’s personal user manuals, helping to create an open dialogue between coworkers and a better understanding when conflicts arise.


2. Develop a better understanding of yourself.  In order to complete a personal user manual, you need to have a strong understanding of yourself and how you work. Knowing how you like to work and being able to articulate that to coworkers is especially important in remote environments. For example, if you learn that you prefer to brainstorm in the morning because that is when you are the most open and energized, being able to communicate that to your team could be helpful for productivity.


3. Understand how other team members work. We’re all different in how we work and make decisions. Try to honor that individuality on your team. If you understand your own personality and working style, as well as how it interacts with others around you, you can approach problems with greater sensitivity. For instance, if you’re meeting with someone about a new product that you are designing and realize that they prefer talking about details rather than big picture ideas, consider asking them about practical considerations rather than seeing if they can help you brainstorm new features.


4. Foster a deep sense of purpose. Think about ways to develop an understanding of the work you do through training and workshops. Bring in clients and talk about case studies to help your team feel proud of their work and understand the impact it has. Keep in mind that building trust and a shared purpose takes time, but with experience, creativity and enthusiasm – it can happen!


5. Use technology to foster human interaction. Technology allows us the opportunity to work and engage with people from all over the country. Use technology to your advantage to create authentic relationships. For example, NEWaukee has created a process of onboarding and continuous integration across the company to expedite trust and belonging through weekly 1:1s, 2:1 casual lunches, inspiration breaks, all-team meetings, asynchronous chat, goal-setting tools and more.


6. Recognize excellence. Who wouldn’t want to be recognized for their hard work? Receiving praise releases oxytocin in the brain and has a large effect on trust, especially when it is received immediately after a goal is met. As you recognize excellence, thoughtfully consider the way people want to be celebrated. Some people like public attention, while others may want their kudos in private.


7. Host rapid-fire, personal, reflection-based networking. Be intentional and cater to the interest and needs of your employees when building an online networking program. (Don’t host a game night if that’s not something your employees already do. It could come across as “forced fun!”) Think ahead and have interesting conversation prompts to keep the conversation flowing. By doing so, people will naturally engage and feel a sense of belonging.


8. Try an internal “Reverse Pitch” event. Offer opportunities for employees across the company to suggest a meaningful change. A “Reverse Pitch”-style program would allow employees to work together across departments while feeling like they are making an impact on the company. Nurture a curiosity culture to allow your employees to grow beyond your expectations.


9. Prioritize effective written communication. Use written communication to your advantage. At NEWaukee, we have implemented FODs, or “Facts of the Day.” At the end of each day, we have an informal email thread where each employee replies and shares highlights from their day. It’s an easy, asynchronous way to keep up with one another as well as projects that are happening across the company.


10. Set up boundaries. As remote employees, the lines can easily get blurred between work and personal time. It’s important to have an open line of communication so that everyone understands expectations. In the future of work, the typical 9-5 life is a thing of the past. Be open, flexible, and excited about the changes in the workplace and make it work for your team! 


Interested in Learning More? Let’s Connect!

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