How Remote Work Impacts Emotional Intelligence
The new normal – we keep hearing about this new thing with varying definitions of what it means – or maybe that’s the point as it is new and nobody knows yet. However, CEOs are claiming that they know what is best for their companies in terms of getting people back to the office. Several say employees need to be back in the office ASAP, yet several more say the remote workplace is the way to go. Yet again, as vaccines are continuing to roll out, these new normals are morphing into getting back to normal. In this article, we will dive deep into who’s working from home, who’s back in the office, and how all of the chaos is affecting the emotional intelligence of both the employees and the employers.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
According to Forbes, emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to effectively manage our feelings and relationships. EI is measured by self-awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management.
Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
In the workplace, one must be able to be empathetic with employers, employees, and colleagues to truly be a part of a team and contribute to overall business growth. Daniel Goleman and Richard E. Boyatzis have found a correlation between good social skills, business acumen, and high EI. However, it is not a personality trait that some people have and some do not. Researchers believe that EI is a valuable skill that can be improved with training and practice. Those who naturally have EI and those who are taught how to strengthen their emotional intelligence exhibit improved communication, management, problem solving and relationship-building in the workplace. However, this may be changing, as EI can be difficult to cultivate remotely.
The Future of Remote Work
We conducted a survey via LinkedIn on how employers/employees feel about returning to the office. The majority say that companies are leaning towards working remotely with full flexibility, or a 2-4-day hybrid work environment coming in second.
So, how will remote work impact emotional intelligence in the workplace? It doesn’t have to be affected, but it can be. A remote workplace requires employees who are internally motivated to follow strict self management skills and perform just as well in a virtual environment as they do in the office. Unfortunately, some people are internally motivated and some need external motivation to get their jobs done. Yet, EI is not unachievable with remote jobs, it just needs a sharper focus.
Humans need to feel connected – it is in our DNA. We need personal interaction, a sense of belonging, and purpose. This is where people who require external motivation will fall behind in working from home. It is an easy fix though – be a proactive supervisor, manager, CEO, etc. A tool as simple as video conferencing supports social skills and enables methods of collaboration. It provides an opportunity for individuals to exchange personal conversations (taking the place of water cooler talk), explore their strengths and weaknesses in team regroups and weekly/monthly check-ins, and reduce the distance between the employee and employers.
The Commercial Observer highlights an example of where a CEO went public with opinions that didn’t seem to have “buy-in” from the employees. Maybe if she had been physically in the workplace with the ability to observe how her employees were reacting with one another, she would have had an awareness of her surroundings and been able to adapt her thoughts to respond to her issue accordingly; ie. with an idea that empathizes with the employees. However, the same self-awareness could have been achieved through virtual team check-ins via video conferencing. Despite being virtual, having a conversation with employees before going public with information that affects them is a communication that allows the employees to feel like their time and presence in the company matters.
How to use EI to connect with your staff and deliver your message
Emotional intelligence can be a powerful tool that leaders can leverage to get their message across and connect with their employees. Getting a feel for what your employees feel and how they perceive their role in your organization is crucial, particularly if you’re planning any big changes within your company. So, we’ve seen how not to do it; how can you make the best of emotional intelligence to implement change?
At Roos Advisors, we suggest using the same principle that we recommend for all major policy shifts within an organization: the bigger the policy shift, the more time is needed to implement the policy. Let us walk you through the three key steps in following our principle:
Set the Vision
Gather a group of internal stakeholders to assist with gathering information externally and internally, researching, and working toward the best possible outcome for all parties. Also, ask your clients or customers what they will need. It is best to ask customers for their input rather than assuming you know. It is rare that we have opportunities to ask for customer input on big decisions. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a greater sense of everyone needing to work together, because we really had to be in it all together. Take this unique opportunity to have focused conversations, or conduct focus groups, or surveys, where you ask your clients what they believe their needs will be from you as their provider.
Ensure that key stakeholders are prepared to provide support and can assist in carrying the employers’ message before policies are implemented.
Be willing to communicate, as this is a new territory to not only your employees, but probably to you, as the employer, as well. Committing to implementation with a built-in evaluation period and reset is a really good idea.
Best Practices for Remote Management with Roos Advisors
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