In previous Tip of the Month issues we discussed the growing trend of hybrid teams—teams that are composed of some members who are co-located in a workspace and others who work remotely. These teams provide both challenges and opportunities for their leaders and the organizations they serve. This month we will explore the correlation between onsite and offsite work to team member engagement. We’ll offer tips to address the unique engagement factors of virtual team members.
The Right Balance to Maximize Engagement
A 2017 State of the American Workplace study done by the Dale Carnegie organization, found that 67-71% of all employees were not fully engaged. In addition, companies with engaged employees outperformed those without by 202%. Accordingly, disengaged employees cost the U.S. between $450 – $550 billion annually based on research reported in the 2017 State of the American Workplace by the Gallup organization. Clearly, employee engagement is an issue.
So, what impact does the opportunity to work virtually have on engagement? Gallup’s study revealed that “engagement climbs when employees spend some time working remotely and some time working in a location with their coworkers. The optimal engagement boost occurs when employees spend 60% to less than 80% of their workweek—or three to four days—working offsite.”
Moreover, employees who work remotely some of the time have higher engagement levels than those who work remotely 100% andthose onsite 100% of the time. Organizations that implement policies and practices of allowing employees a balance of offsite and onsite work will be rewarded with higher productivity and higher profitability as well as more engaged employees.
Here’s a Tip:
Here are some tips you can apply to increase engagement among your hybrid and virtual team members. Consider the following:
- Collaboration is king. Team members who help one another complete tasks increase overall productivity and quality. It also encourages empathy and builds relationship among members. This increases productive communication and reduces conflicts.
- Complex or difficult tasks or more effectively resolved when people are face-to-face. Bring members together for these and connect these tasks to the team’s mission and vision. If it’s not possible to meet together physically, use video technology to increase understanding and collaboration.
- Be especially clear/explicit when describing expectations and team members’ decision-making authority i.e. provide input, make recommendations, or decide and inform. Be mindful that these are understood differently among cultures.
- Match the communication method (technology) to the message. Leverage visual technology when you expect differences of opinion, the topic is likely to be emotional, or to use graphics to provide additional clarification. This also increases team member participation and reduces multitasking.
- Begin team meetings with a non-work topic such as asking members to share a recent success, a hobby, or activity outside of work. This builds relationships and increases empathy.
Next month, we shift topics and look at ways to track and assess individual member and team performance of virtual teams.
Partners in Development are experts in navigating the virtual teams work environment. Our Long-Distance Leadership ModelTM provides a path for virtual and hybrid team leaders to engage their team members and Prepare, Plan, Produce, and deliver timely Results. If you’d like to obtain more actionable items and resources to implement with your team, visit http://virtualteamresources.com/
 2017 State of the American Workplace. Gallup.