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Team Communication & Engagement During a Remote Transition

With Jennifer Whalen, Vice President of Student Operations, National Education Partners

Our first Success Corner is all about keeping culture and team communication going, even in times of transitioning to a remote work environment. The National Education Partners (NEP) Student Service team provides all student operational support for Northcentral University – this includes student advising, student financial aid processing, and student billing and accounts. 

Faced with taking all operations from an on-site facility in Scottsdale to the virtual world in less than 48 hours, student service leaders developed some outstanding practices which are featured here. Each is aimed at maintaining their culture. From intentional outreaches like the daily “Corona Chronicles” and “Morning Minute with Jen”, to informal approaches like Coffee Chat and Virtual Breakrooms, this team has collaborated to find ways to continue their family culture and, in some cases, build upon the greatness that already exists. 

  1. Create a Daily Team Communication 

Each morning, follow the same format, come up with a quirky name, and update to relevant information for the day to send to the team. Send it around the same time each morning for consistency – these become daily check-ins that the team looks forward to receiving and helps to build engagement in this new remote environment.

  1. Share Applicable Tips & Tricks in an Engaging and Meaningful Way 

The NEP Student Services leadership team sends an applicable “tip of the day” to the team in a video message. Switching up how we communicate by utilizing audio and video messages has really helped to keep the team engaged. 

  1. Create a “Virtual Breakroom” 

Just as you would in a physical office setting, set up a space to connect and communicate with your team members outside of the formality of work-related meetings. This helps to build team member relationships, and reminds us to take a quick break to recharge and catch up with our coworkers. 

  1. “5 Minutes of Fun” 

Create ways to have fun with your teams virtually that include friendly competition, sharing photos of virtual workspaces, pets at home, etc. For example, we play “Caption This” where a team lead sends out an image each day and has a quick and fun “competition” on who can come up with the best caption. Another example of “5 Minutes of Fun” is a Virtual Spirit Week. Pick a theme for each day of the week and encourage team members to participate by sending a picture of them “living their theme” in their virtual workspace. 

  1. Transparent Performance Communication 

We provide our entire Student Services team a Daily Dashboard on prior day productivity and outcome achievement. In a physical office setting, we provide this on a weekly basis, but to allow for quick feedback and correction, we do this daily in a virtual setting. Leaders have noticed student experience improvement and overall success from being transparent in communicating about performance.