Posted by Dr. Linda Sharkey on 3.14.2019
“Dr. Sharkey, I’m a leader in a workplace that has employees spread all over the U.S. Some employees are in the office next door to me, others, I’ve never actually met face-to-face. I know the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace, but how do I ensure through virtual communications that remote employees are receiving the same type of courtesy and consideration as those I chat with in the office halls?”
I love this age-old question because it’s getting easier to answer with the invention of new technology. To keep emotional intelligence high through virtual communications, here’s what I suggest:
I always recommend virtual teams get together face-to-face at least once a year. This helps team members understand voice inflections, mannerisms, and thinking styles, which can be misunderstood in remote employee relationships.
I understand these events can be costly for some organizations. However, you’ll save money in the long run by avoiding interpersonal conflicts and flawed decisions.
Use FaceTime-type technology for regular employee discussions. For example, when you’re brainstorming with an in-office co-worker, consider also reaching out to a relevant virtual employee for their perspective.
Some companies take these interactions even further by using local robots. These bots are equipped with video screens and travel to employees’ desks, enabling them to chat with co-workers all over the world.
I’ve personally witnessed a robot communication exchange between offices. As a result, a customer received quick clarity on an issue and the office won their business.
The key to using this technology and remaining emotionally intelligent is using creative connections and authentic dialogue.
Also, be sure to check in regularly on what is working and what isn’t to help build long distance relationships. This is a time when being able to ask insightful questions is key. Check regularly to see if employee communication is working.
Then, ask how it can be improved and act on those suggestions. Remember, your staff is always paying attention to your emotions and inflection. Asking for a read on them from all employees will help you close the virtual gap and build connections like never before.