Two toy robots are staying connected and gardening together for their mental health against a yellow background.
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How can technology keep remote workers connected?

8 Oct 2020344 Views

Steve Beauchamp of Paylocity shares his tips for drawing on technology to help staff stay connected while working remotely.

When it comes to our mental health, technology can seem like a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we’re told that spending too much time on devices and social media could have a negative impact on our wellbeing, but on the other hand these things can also help people stay informed and in touch. Furthermore, tools such as Headspace tell us that tech can help us fit calming practices, such as mindfulness and meditation, into our day.

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For Steve Beauchamp, technology plays a pivotal role in his employees’ wellbeing. Beauchamp is the CEO of Paylocity, an online HR and payroll platform provider based in the US. His experience in people management and the fact that almost half of Paylocity’s workforce were working remotely before the pandemic began have given him some insights into the topic.

He says that the key to managing mental health in a remote setting is “reimagining all of the connection points an employee has in the office” and drawing on technology to recreate them.

“We have found it is really important for employees to feel a sense of purpose in their work and find personal human connections with their co-workers,” he says. “And we have found that technology can actually allow employees to make many more connections than is possible in an office setting.”

‘Despite some of the challenges created by the pandemic, organisations shouldn’t let their employees’ development go by the wayside’
– STEVE BEAUCHAMP

Technologies that connect employees who share common interests, whether that’s sports, social movements or anything in between, are a good place to start.

“For example, one of our most popular social groups in Paylocity is about pets, where animal lovers are sharing pics of their pets and making connections with people they would never actually meet in the office,” Beauchamp explains.

His team has also started using more video to communicate. In times of uncertainty, he says, this can help staff feel more informed and less isolated despite distances. “At a time where employees are physically distanced, technology can be the bridge for making them feel supported and connected.”

Why staying connected matters

We’ve all been trying our best to stay connected while working remotely. But why is it so important to our wellbeing? According to Beauchamp, a workforce that fosters “strong relationships” is happier and more productive.

Giving staff the space to chat about non-work topics is a solid step towards a more connected workforce, he says. And technology can help.

Within Paylocity’s own platform, there is a Community tool where remote workers can “collaborate and make connections”, working on team projects, reacting with comments and emojis and creating social groups. Its Journals feature acts as a two-way channel between managers and staff, allowing them to discuss goals and achievements, and there are also options to ask experts or run pulse surveys.

There are also plenty of other tech tools that have helped teams keep in touch since the mass shift to remote working, including  Slack, Microsoft TeamsGoogle Meet and many more.

Technology for learning and development

As well as keeping in touch, technology can also be beneficial for learning and development. In turn, these are another “key part of keeping employees’ spirits up and engaged”, according to Beauchamp.

“Technology is empowering employees – especially as we work remotely – to continue their learning and development,” he explains. “Despite some of the challenges created by the pandemic, organisations shouldn’t let their employees’ development go by the wayside.

“Innovation in virtual learning and creating learning and development programmes where employees have the ability to remotely create, learn and focus on subjects that are relevant to both their current position and their broader career aspirations is the biggest opportunity organisations can take advantage of.”

The Paylocity platform employs a learning management system to help employees upskill, based on peer-to-peer training courses spanning technology, compliance, workplace safety and wellness.

Other tools that can be used for remote learning and development include videos, real-time surveys, games and e-books, which Beauchamp says can provide “new ways of learning and increased value to the remote worker”.

“With everyone working from home, there is also an opportunity to bring in a broader set of speakers that are geographically dispersed,” he says. “This creates variety and provides access that would otherwise not be available in a classroom setting.”

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa joined the team as senior Careers reporter in July 2019 with previous experience in science communication and media. With a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication, she is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos.

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