In societies around the world, research has proven that strong social connections help people live healthier, happier lives. In Okinawa, Japan, for example, social support groups called moais are formed in early childhood. Over a lifetime, these group members help each other navigate life’s social, financial, health or spiritual interests—and in turn, the area is an extraordinary hotspot for longevity.
During the pandemic, we were isolated from our social support groups. Companies implemented remote work as a temporary solution for employees, but it is becoming increasingly clear the efficiency of this type of work, and the desire to sustain long-term remote work options for employees.
The challenge with this is that sometimes we miss out on the opportunity to truly connect, develop and engage with each other – and for companies, with their employees.
It IS possible to maintain connection with each other, and still foster a strong sense of culture within a company in a remote workforce. Here are a few suggestions I have for preserving that connection and culture.
1. Communicate with care and consistency.
Everyone communicates differently, so what works for one person or team might not work for another. It’s worth investing the time to make sure all of your teams have what they need to thrive. It will likely include:
· Regular check-ins from company leaders.
· Tools for internal communications that are up to speed with how we communicate in our everyday lives.
· Asking employees what the best method of communication would be for them specifically and for their role.
2. Develop people, not just employees.
Employees are people who have needs inside and outside your company, and burnout is at an all-time high. Don’t lose sight of the fact that your remote employees are also people who need to eat, move their bodies and possibly tend to family members—all while advancing in line with their personal goals. Think about:
· How you are supporting remote employees’ mind, body and spirit.
· How you’re helping your remote employees achieve their goals.
· How your remote employees can find help when they need it.
3. Boost engagement with social support.
Just like the Japanese concept of moai, consider how you can use small, social groups to help your employees engage and support each other. When employees have peers within your company who can cheer them on, bounce around ideas and help them through problems, they’ll feel more connected and inspired in their work.
Employees everywhere are learning to navigate lives and work that aren’t as predictable as they used to be. A flexible and responsive company with a strong sense of culture can meet people where they are—so you both can prosper.
The support from my tribe of friends, family and colleagues is a critical part of my personal and professional well-being. If we’ve learned anything over the past 18 months, it’s that we must be intentional about staying connected to one another.
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