Plenty of employees across the nation are adjusting to a new normal of working remotely; it’s safe to say some can, at times, feel isolated or disconnected from their typical work community if they aren’t provided with tools for a successful adjustment. Time and time again remote work has been proven to increase productivity and overall employee engagement. This is an opportunity for managers and company leaders to seize the moment and have their organization come out on top.
Encourage Flexibility and Time Management
Working from home is probably an exciting endeavor for most employees, but without proper time management skills it can quickly become a barrier to completing projects. Don’t assume your employees know how to work remotely. Give them the proper training and tools to learn to navigate the new normal.
At the same time, start the habit of recognizing strictly the what of employee work, not the when. Effective remote employees will be balancing home-life with their professional life. There may be times they need to work outside of the standard 9am-5pm. As long as they are staying accountable, and available during critical times, providing flexibility within reason will greatly improve morale.
Meetings, Meetings, and More Meetings
Meetings are especially important for remote employees because they ensure people remain connected and accountable. While you should always air on the side of over communicating; keep your meetings short and to-the-point, leaving your employees to manage the remainder of their time on their own.
If you don’t already have it set up, short daily meetings are a great way to quickly check-in. Most organizations will schedule these both in the morning, after everyone is settled in, and later in the afternoon, before everyone signs-off for the day.
Encourage your employees to turn their cameras on! While it may feel uncomfortable to some at first, there is nothing that makes remote employees feel more included than seeing their teammates face-to-face. Leverage tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts to video chat both formal conference calls and casual conversations.
When using remote employees, it’s impossible to duplicate the community of an in-office environment, but that’s no reason not to try. It’s easy for a remote worker to simply “listen in” on a call where they aren’t actively participating in the conversation. There are a few tricks you could try:
• Structure the meeting with an agenda that requires certain employees to present their thoughts/contributions.
• Call on certain contributors throughout the meeting, requesting input.
• Use a mandatory closing question that results in employees summarizing their understanding of the material and their own marching orders.
Remote Working Perks
Off-site employees miss out on certain perks such as free lunches, an office gym, and commuter benefits. Many organizations have begun to offer special perks to remote employees such as a gym membership reimbursement, a home office stipend, or professional development budget. If you have specific benefits as a part of your company culture, consider making them available to all employees, regardless of location.
Ask for Feedback
Sending out regular employee pulse surveys is a great way to stay-in-touch with employees. A “Pulse” survey is a quick survey, typically shorter than your quarterly or annual engagement survey, that gives a quick glimpse into overall moral and engagement levels. Sending it out digitally will help you compare results over time, and in-office vs remote employee feedback.
Remember, the most important part about asking for feedback is taking action on the results.
Most employees who work from home struggle with separating home-life from professional-life. As a result, it’s easy for these employees to get caught up working well over traditional working hours, even dipping into weekends. Over time, this can be mentally taxing and eventually leads to burn out. Encourage remote employees to use breaks to walk outside, always take a lunch break, and use their PTO when needed to put their mental health first.
Remote working doesn’t have to be an isolating experience. By giving your employees the tools and training they need to share and spread your culture, it’s likely their overall morale and productivity will increase as well.