Top Ten Tips... Engaging and Networking Online
Now that we have finally said farewell to a very challenging 2020, let's start 2021 with a resolution to look out for each other at work. With Covid-19 still a major part of our lives, this is more important than ever before.
Hopefully we will all be back in our places of work sooner rather than later, but until then, encouraging your colleagues to continue to engage and to have meaningful connections, albeit virtually, is still important. You might have introduced many virtual opportunities for your workforce already. The New Year is the perfect time to reflect on what worked well for you and your employees and what needs mixing up.
Here are our Top Ten Tips for engaging and networking with your colleagues and partners online:
1. Work on your team spirit
You may find that with staff still working in isolation team spirit is low. Or you may have a workforce who have shined during lockdown by working together in the face of adversity. Either way, it has been a stressful time for everyone and the New Year is a good time to help your colleagues to get back on track and to harness the entrepreneurial spirit they have shown during lockdown. Reinvigorating a sense of team spirit while social distancing is still in place is difficult, but that shouldn’t stop you looking at ways of bringing everyone together remotely.
2. Keep your learners engaged
Not everyone will be enthusiastic about completing online learning courses, particularly if they are mandatory. But it doesn’t mean the courses can’t be interactive and surprisingly fun and informative. Don’t let Covid stop your employees from developing their skills in 2021. You may already deliver a mixture of trainer-led and online courses for colleagues but, especially in the current climate with hundreds of thousands of people being forced to work from home, there is a definite need amongst employers to offer more virtual, computer-based e-learning.
3. Look for new networking platforms
We all know about LinkedIn, but what about other online social media or virtual platforms such as Teams and Zoom? With most employees continuing to work from home, online networking is becoming even more popular. Ask your contacts or the partners you work with what opportunities there are to connect in new ways online within your industry. There may be webinars, informal meet-and-greets or virtual meetings which you can attend. If you can’t find anything which applies to you, why not take advantage of a gap in the market and set up your own networking opportunities?
4. Try a warm call, not a cold call
A warm call is reaching out to people you already know to check how they are or to get an update on what’s going on in their work lives. It could also to ask for help or to extend your support to them. A warm call is different to a cold call because you already know each other. With Covid still prevalent in our lives, it’s now more important to do this than ever before.
5. Join or create a Facebook group
Try expanding your virtual network by joining Facebook groups relevant to your industry or business. There’s a host of people out there all looking to connect with each other in a familiar, informal setting. Facebook might be old-school but these groups can be a huge source of support and information for you and your employees, especially if you are still working remotely. Alternatively, you could set up a social Facebook group for your co-workers to help you all keep in touch.
6. Keep it fun
Working from home might mean a lie in and avoiding the rush hour traffic but it can also be lonely. A great way to keep your colleagues connected is to encourage them to have some fun (while working hard, obviously!) You could host virtual happy hours for your team or encourage them to eat lunch together virtually so they can catch up. You could also set up a WhatsApp group for offline messages go keep everyone connected.
7. Join forces to stay healthy
Work minus the commute means we should technically all have some spare time every day to invest in our health and wellbeing. Why not reimagine the time you’d usually spend commuting to the office and use it to boost your fitness and mental health? You could encourage your employees to host virtual mindfulness sessions, invest in a group yoga or Pilates session or set up a running group. The group activity will no doubt help your employees to feel more connected.
8. Use video rather the phone
Remote working might also mean you don’t need to dress for work (or brush your hair, if you don’t want to) which might mean you shy away from video calls. But encouraging your employees to Skype or contact each other via Zoom or Teams will help them feel more connected and engaged with each other. Being able to see each other’s faces helps to build a sense of togetherness and community. It will also help you to pick up on more visual clues rather than relying on voice calls or emails, where subtleties can be missed or misinterpreted.
9. Build a support network
We all feel stronger when we are part of a group and with support bubbles getting smaller and our loved ones sadly still at arm’s length, our work colleagues can prove to be a valuable support network. Don’t forget to check in on each other, to ask if your colleagues are okay, to lift their spirits with small acts of kindness or to check they are coping with home working. A strong support network and a sense of team spirit amongst your colleagues will stand you all in good stead when it’s time to welcome everyone back to the workplace.
10. Continue to be flexible
Pre-coronavirus you may have had strict shift schedules in place but lockdown has shown that not everyone benefits from a nine-to-five schedule. You may have given your colleagues more flexibility to manage their lockdown schedule, especially if they have had children or are caring for others. Some people may have been more productive in the morning and others at night-time or by splitting their shift. If you feel you feel you have got more out of your employees by offering flexible working hours, then why not continue to do so now your colleagues are hopefully looking to return to work after lockdown?
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cHRysos HR Solutions is a Doncaster based HR training and consultancy company providing CIPD accredited qualifications, Apprenticeships, Training and HR Services to SMEs nationwide. For more information about how cHRysos HR can help you or your teams successfully achieve further qualifications, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)1302 802128.