Back in March 2020 the world changed, and it still hasn’t changed back. In fact, many predict that the world will never change back to what it was before the coronavirus pandemic impacted people everywhere.
As some businesses acted quickly to develop plans and processes to allow staff members to work from home, others didn’t have this luxury of flexibility. Workers deemed “essential” have been physically going into work and interacting with customers despite the pandemic. Even within organizations, there are some employees who can continue to work from home and others who must be on site. This hybrid workplace model is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, if not forever.
Companies have adapted to this model in many ways, with technologies like Zoom becoming a critical part of their strategy to keep employees connected in a hybrid workplace, wherever they are working.
Employee Engagement Through Zoom
Zoom has provided the foundation for companies to perform a myriad of tasks in a hybrid manner. Though Zoom has long been an application that organizations have used, online training using the platform has obviously become much more of a necessity these days than in the past. Leveraging, or adding additional Zoom features for training has allowed employees to continue to grow and develop despite remote work.
As more companies have found themselves needing to hire and onboard employees remotely during the pandemic, remote onboarding has been another task that Zoom has been able to support. And, of course, virtual team meetings have become commonplace at organizations of all types.
Employee engagement in a hybrid workplace model hasn’t been easy. Fortunately, technology like Zoom has made employee engagement less daunting in a hybrid workplace model than it might otherwise have been.
Serving a Variety of Employee Engagement Needs
While every business and every situation is obviously different, we can all learn some important best practices from companies that have successfully incorporated tools like Zoom into their hybrid workplace models.
Eric Holguin is a brand ambassador for Herrman and Herrman PLLC in Corpus Christi, Texas. The law firm has been working in a hybrid manner since March 2020. Their law offices, Hoguin says, host weekly marketing department Zoom meetings “to discuss the previous work week, future goals, and any concerns our team may have.” The hybrid workplace, he says, is a result of some tasks that just can’t be accomplished remotely.
Managers in these settings are eager to find solutions that can help them keep staff engaged and productive.
There are a lot of tools out there that can help keep employees engaged but, says Andres Lares who runs Shapiro Negotiations Institute, a global negotiation training firm, “Zoom’s ease of use is what sets it apart from others.”
Tyler Boyd, Chief Strategy Officer at Squeeze, agrees. “Zoom has been great about anticipating the need to evolve for hybrid businesses, and it now has many enhancements that hybrid workplaces can use to safely re-enter the office,” says Boyd. “There’s a Zoom Rooms Kiosk Mode, where you can have a receptionist virtually engage visitors, and enhanced voice commands for Zoom Rooms if a presenter wants to engage Zoom verbally during a meeting. Zoom is also rolling out a Smart Gallery sometime this year that will allow AI to create a gallery-view of in-room meeting participants for the virtual participant.”
Class builds on these capabilities to offer additional functionality, with the growing hybrid business model in mind.
Tips and Best Practices for Using Zoom in a Hybrid Workplace Model
Chris Gadek is the head of growth at AdQuick, a company that focuses on making outdoor advertising easy. “Having a hybrid work environment can take some getting used to,” he admits. “You will need to set up Zoom meetings that combine people at home and in the office.” A big fear of those working from home, he says, is that they might feel left out in the company. It’s important, he says, to ensure that both groups feel engaged. One of the techniques he has used is ice breakers. This, he says, helps both virtual and in-person employees perform together to keep the feeling of being part of a team.
DevSkiller decided to set up a skeleton staff to handle business operations during the virus, says cofounder and HR tech recruitment advisor Tom Winter. “Zoom has become such an important factor in making sure we are connected to over a hundred employees still working from home.” Zoom, he says, has allowed the firm to hold morning meetings to establish the beginning of the workday and close-down check-ins where each employee is evaluated, and the next day’s tasks are assigned.
“This has worked for our team as we have shown the work-from-home employees that we trust that they are being efficient employees at home while establishing a work structure—beginning and ending the days with meetings—to keep everyone in the office work mindset despite being in their homes.”
Many companies are taking a “cameras on” approach with Zoom interactions. As Heinrich Long, a privacy expert at Restore Privacy, says: “The first step to promoting Zoom engagement is by encouraging all employees to utilize their video feature. Using your video to speak is natural for conversation and sets a precedent for other employees looking for engagement in a remote workplace.”
Restore Privacy has also taken steps to communicate best practices for organizing a Zoom call with employees. For instance, Long says: “Greeting staff members as they enter the call is a great way to break the ice, and creates a comfortable environment where members feel free to speak to one another.” Once greeted, an agenda is set. “Doing this will put you and the group on track for an organized and engaging Zoom meeting where all members know what to expect,” he says. Long says he also loves using breakout rooms within Zoom to get a better understanding of how individual members feel about a topic, and so everyone has room to speak their mind.”
Jacob Dayan is CEO and co-founder of Community Tax and Finance Pal. Dayan uses Zoom to hold meetings as well as for team building and social activities. “One thing that we have been able to recreate with Zoom is our open-door,” he says. “Some questions require more than just an email exchange, but with Zoom, we are able to set up a system where people can quickly call their managers for more detailed questions or concerns without having to wait for the next meeting.”
It’s clear there is a wide range of features and applications available through Zoom that Class has augmented to help busy executives and managers keep their staff members engaged, informed, and productive within a hybrid workplace model.