Employee engagement: Staying close while far away

The Office of Personnel Management is continuing its monthly webinar series on engaging the federal workforce.

If you had to get a tattoo, what would it be?

While the answer might not relate directly to your job in the federal government, the question is a way to get people to share their thoughts and opinions with coworkers, and foster an office environment of engagement — even when that office is remote.

The Office of Personnel Management is hosting an Aug. 16 webinar on remote workforce engagement. The webinar is one in a series of webinars hosted the second Tuesday of each month.

In a blog post, OPM Performance Management Solutions Manager Rebecca Ayers  said that while it’s important to communicate with workers in an office, “[as] more and more of our colleagues telework or work remotely, it’s even more important that we find ways to make them fully included partners in the work we do every day.”

The webinar is open to all federal employees, Ayers said. However, for those who can’t make it, the two takeaways relate to communication tools and structuring communications.

Ayers said if your agency allows teleworking, don’t just use phone and email to stay connected.

“Not all IT tools are as useful to some of us as others,” Ayers said. “But it is important to analyze your team of teleworkers to see if there is any technology that would help your team communicate more, or more effectively. If you see a tool that you think would benefit their communication in the telework environment, try creating a business case to get permission to use it.”

Chat with Alastair Thomson, CIO of NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Aug. 16 at 11 a.m. Sign up here.

Ayers said scheduling regular team meetings is also important to employee engagement. And those meetings don’t always need to be just about work; ask questions to start a conversation.

“This helps the team to get to know each other better, even though they are not sitting in the same office,” Ayers said. “Anything we can do to increase that personal connection helps make our remote workforce feel even more a part of the team and even more effective.”

Telework, especially within the Beltway, has grown in use, as recently as this year.

Maintenance on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA’s) subway tracks prompted OPM to push for alternate work schedules, and the creation of an interagency working group to address disruptions of the workday commute.

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