HP Innovation Issue 18: Summer 2021 - Page 37

Maintaining an environment of transparency and open dialogue in a remote office is key , but the medium matters . Managers should offer regular feedback to both reinforce good behaviors and correct any bad habits , but they should do it via video or phone .
Morris recommends a less buttoned-up approach that shows self-awareness and vulnerability to help Gen Z see their place in the company long term . Allowing time for small talk during meetings and getting personal helps humanize remote colleagues . Indicating family reasons for time off ( daughter ’ s soccer game , vet appointment , dinner with parents ) and encouraging everyone to take their vacation days can show Gen Z that the company values a holistic work / life balance . This generation is more open to discussing mental health and personal anxieties , so encouraging them to take care of themselves and modeling healthy habits make them feel safer and more confident .
“ Empathy and concern are no longer just ‘ soft skills ’ that are nice to have . They ’ re critical to helping employees feel valued ,” says Morris .
For the first three months at her new job , Syracuse grad Arambel had a weekly standing call with colleagues to cut down on emails and mimic the type of chatter that might occur in an office space . She appreciated the open communication , which helped her absorb the company culture in the same way she would have in an openplan office . A few months ( and many phone calls , scheduled and unscheduled ) later , she began to feel more confident in her work . While she still hasn ’ t met most of her coworkers in person , she

“ Empathy and concern are no longer just ‘ soft skills ’ that are nice to have . They ’ re critical to helping employees feel valued .”

— NICOLE MORRIS , EXECUTIVE CONSULTANT AT VAYA GROUP
formed connections by texting , talking to colleagues on the phone ( for a more personal touch ), and following them on social media to develop relationships .
But none of this is a foreign way to communicate . “ I only have a few vague memories of the time before touch screens and iPhones ,” says Arambel , who notes that a good part of her daily routine has always been online .
With the right support system and resources , individualistic Gen Zers will be a critical component of a work environment that benefits the entire company . The rise of the remote office has changed plenty about workplace culture — just in time for the arrival of Gen Z , who will undoubtedly evolve it further .
If you ’ re feeling overwhelmed , be honest with yourself about identifying the top three priorities . Frame it this way : Which goals will leave you the most disappointed if they aren ’ t met ?
Use a calendar for task management ( and for transparency , if you ’ re sharing it ). Break down projects into mini-goals and build each step into a meeting block so you can stay on task .
Engage in virtual coffees , lunches , happy hours , and group events . Re-creating a warm social environment virtually takes more effort . Bring an open mind and allow people to get to know you while also showing an interest in them . It ’ s easy to connect over work tasks , but connecting on a deeper personal level is critical to making friends at the office .
Join employee groups or task forces to meet people with shared interests at work . If these groups don ’ t exist , ask management if you can start one .
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