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Fostering a Positive Workplace Culture in a Virtual Setting

April 6, 2020
A move to remote working environments means effective leadership communication is even more critical.

Moving to a virtual workforce in response to COVID-19 is raising a lot of operational issues for companies.

This new way “will leave many organizations and attitudes forever changed, even once the threat has receded,” according to a new report from Capgemini.

To help managers cope,  Capgemini's report, Virtual organizations need real leadership: COVID-19 and the virtual operating model offers advice on effective leadership. The report lays out specific steps:

Place trust in employees, provide autonomy and accountability

In a virtual environment, employees expect to be trusted and provided with greater autonomy to complete their work and fulfill their goals. And that means enabling managers not to constantly keep checking on the productivity of their team members. Leaders should limit micromanaging a remote workforce, to the extent possible.

Empathize, be authentic, care

The importance of clear and effective leadership communication is heightened in a remote working environment, especially for those who are moving from physical working spaces to virtual ones. Emotional intelligence (EI) for leaders and line managers has assumed a new criticality. In a pandemic situation, where there is a huge amount of uncertainty and fear, employees are not in fact just looking for clarity from leadership. They are seeking reassurance and encouragement. And if this personal and emotional connection doesn’t happen, communication may feel inappropriate or insufficient. This is why EI is so important – leadership needs to be able to empathize with employees and their concerns and strike the right tone. Yet, our recent study on emotional intelligence found that only 32% of organizations conducted training for middle management on EI.10

Foster collaboration and creativity in a remote workforce

In the digital culture study, we found that lack of collaboration was still a significant issue with a huge divergence between senior executives and employees. Capgemini found that 85% of senior executives believed that their organization collaborates effectively across functions and business units, while only 41% of lower-level employees felt the same. 

The report concludes that " a pandemic like this creates significant uncertainty and nervousness. It creates an extraordinary situation that requires leaders to be extra vigilant in paying close attention to their teams and in steering the business. The move to virtual working becomes more than a change of modus operandi – it requires a deep change in behaviors and mindset for both leaders and employees." 

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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