Tips for Implementing Emotional Intelligence into Your Digital Workplace

As more businesses and employees are converting to work-from-home environments, the need for better emotional intelligence (EQ) within the digital workplace becomes priority.

Looking back on 2020, few would have predicted such a volatile and downright bizarre year. While COVID-19 brought many businesses to a halt, others were forced to pivot and get creative with their services simply to keep the lights on. The one business trend that took off above all others is the expansion of the digital workplace.

Before the pandemic of 2020, companies were allowing employees to work remotely on occasion with the bulk of employees being required to report to the office. However, after realizing overall productivity didn’t dip, most businesses are fully embracing remote working and going so far as to reduce their brick and mortar overheard to increase their digital workspace capabilities.

As more businesses and employees are converting to work-from-home environments, the need for better emotional intelligence (EQ) within the digital workplace becomes priority. Although productivity hasn’t waned with the addition of screen time or reduction of personal interactions, there’s reason to be concerned about our well-being – after all, we are social creatures who need human connection. In a world where people are becoming increasingly separated and conducting business virtually, it’s important for businesses amplify their EQ strategies.

Emotional Intelligence was first created by Peter Salovey and John Mayer as a psychological theory which then gained significant recognition through Daniel Goleman‘s best-selling books on the topic. Goleman, a psychologist, Harvard graduate, and award-winning author spent time in both India and Sri Lanka during his studies, learning from gurus such as the Dali Lama. While Goleman’s five components of EI have earned a lot of mainstream traction, how can they be applied to and improve digital workplaces? 

Self-Awareness

Individual success is often gauged by knowing where one shines, but also where one has weaknesses. Working remotely has its benefits, such as flexibility, but it also has disadvantages. Many people find it harder to concentrate, especially when having to juggle kids, loud or disruptive surroundings, or looming home tasks. So how can employees improve their self-awareness in a digital environment?

Ask for feedback, often. Have regular team meetings where you can discuss what you and your teammates can work on and where they excel and adjust accordingly. Also, be conscious of your own weakness’ and take constructive criticism in with open arms. This is the best way to grow professionally and personally. Thirdly, set up a designated working area and take note of the times you’re most productive and where you feel most inspired.

Before you can be fully attentive to the needs of others, you must first be aware of and meet your own.

Self-Regulation

We’re all humans – well, most of us – and we all have our triggers. Being self-aware is knowing what those triggers are, while self-regulation is having the ability to control the impulses and emotions that arise when triggered. Self-regulation is not something that comes naturally; it requires practice in order to become second nature.

Some basic practices for upping your self-regulation include being cognizant of your expressions. It’s easy to forget that cameras are rolling during most of our teams and virtual meetings, but your colleagues and co-workers are becoming more conscious of what some of your non-verbal reactions may mean.

Also, try practicing self-control with mindfulness. Find time in your day to step away from the screen meditate, breathe, or take a moment to relax at the start of each day. And adopt a glass half full mindset, keeping a positive approach through optimism and gratefulness. Your mind will naturally start to shift and begin to think that way the more you put it into practice.

By regulating yourself, your behaviors, and your attitude, you’ll be better equipped to manage projects and work together in a team. 

Motivation

Some people thrive with change, while other reel against it. Change, as we know, is one of the few constants in life. To that end, change can be incredibly motivating. This year has made thinking outside of the box more critical than ever. Extraordinary thinking, however, puts many of us in a position of doing things we don’t particularly enjoy, or it take us out of our comfort zones, often sapping our motivation altogether.

Listening is an incredibly valuable tool toward keeping the motivation aspect of EQ on the level. Providing your remote team with the opportunity to share their ideas on how to improve their digital workplace gives them ownership and buy-in on a situation that impacts them the most. Some companies, for example, have even adopted a point system for knowledge and idea sharing; the more your ideas are used or implemented, the more you get rewarded for it – which, in turn, keeps teams motivated.

Simple techniques for personal motivation go a long way, too. Rather than staying in pajamas to take calls, getting out of bed, showering, and preparing as if you were going to meet clients in person tends to improve mood and overall attitude.

And, don’t forget the simple act of making your bed. This video by Admiral William H. McRaven reminds us that by doing the little things in life, we achieve the big things as well. Ultimately, this sense of accomplishment and motivation will permeate throughout your daily activities.

Empathy

Another component of high EQ is empathy. When considering a digital workplace and the different settings of your team members, it’s important to try to understand or feel what they’re experiencing from their position.

As mentioned previously, working from anywhere has its challenges. Rather than being overly critical of another’s set-up or methods, try to embrace them initially. Allow children to sit in on team meetings if needed, or take calls from the car, or agree to flexible working hours. Simply checking in on colleagues to see how they’re doing is also an act of empathy that goes a long way. It shows that you care and are there to help. Employees that feel valued and cared for have shown to be much more productive and open to additional responsibilities.

Social skills

As more people retreat to virtual workplaces, the need for social interaction decreases, causing social skills to suffer. A growing virtual workforce also increases the use of messaging and emails, which escalates the likelihood of misinterpreted communication. Don’t neglect to foster social skills among your team as if you were in face-to-face contact. Keep the camera on when conducting meetings, smile, and stay focused. If you don’t understand something or if communication seems “off,” pick up the phone and call to ask questions, don’t always message. Let others hear you and the inflections in your tone and voice.

When issues arise, consider multiple points of view and seek to find solutions that benefit the team at large. Remember, work is about building relationships, and we build relationships through basic social skills.  Practice your social skills even when you think it’s not necessary because you’re behind a screen.

Remember, EQ is defined as the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth. By applying some of the tips above, you can raise your individual, team, and company EQ across the board. In doing so, not only will your employees flourish, but customer relations will improve, the bottom line will stay healthy and, hopefully, the world will be a better place.