The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the rise of remote working environments in our country, but this trend has been emerging for well over 15 years. Remote working increased 216% between 2005 and 2019 (prior to the start of the pandemic). Based on these figures, as well as the ways in which many more companies have embraced remote work environments during the pandemic, it is clear that this work model is here to stay.
There are many reasons why remote work has become so popular. Employers and employees experience a variety of benefits from this working arrangement:
While the benefits of remote working outweigh the drawbacks for many companies, there are still challenges that must be navigated to ensure your team is set up for success. In particular, it can be more difficult to maintain employee engagement when your entire team isn’t interacting face to face at the office on a regular basis. It’s crucial that your management team takes the proper steps to keep your remote workforce engaged and connected with the company. Fortunately, there are many strategies you can use to accomplish this goal.
Strong communication is always an essential component to maintaining high levels of employee engagement. However, it is even more crucial to have these communication processes documented and practiced by all team members when you have a remote workforce. Many items that are communicated casually in an office environment may not be delivered as easily when employees are working at home. This can leave employees feeling disconnected.
Employees will be much more engaged when they are kept in the loop regarding company policies, new initiatives and the overall direction of the business. It will not only remind them that they are part of a team working towards a larger goal, but it will also send the message that the company has an interest in cultivating a long-term relationship with them.
Some easy ways to ensure all important information is relayed to your team include:
While mass company communications are an effective way to relay certain pieces of information, these methods alone are typically insufficient to maintain a fully engaged team. It’s also important to engage all employees on deeper levels of communication that are more personal in nature. Your management team will be responsible for ensuring that these communications go smoothly and effectively.
It’s crucial that you establish a communication strategy that allows your managers to reach every employee on a regular basis. Some important components of this strategy include:
When employees work in the office, they can easily walk over to a coworker to have a conversation regarding a client or a task. These informal communication opportunities aren’t as easy when everyone is working at home. Therefore, it’s important to adopt a variety of tools that will ensure your employees are able to communicate properly and effectively.
While email is useful for communications that require documentation or involve a significant amount of information, they aren’t appropriate for all situations. Some other tools to use with your team include:
It’s crucial that employee communication extends beyond company policy and work-related matters. Humans crave social interaction and personal connection. When your employees have an opportunity to interact with each other on a more personal level, they will experience greater job satisfaction, feel more connected to their teammates, and be more engaged.
These “water cooler conversations” are easy to have in an office, and they build camaraderie among your employees. It gives them an opportunity to discuss life outside of work – their families, their hobbies, items in the news, and the latest TV shows, music and movies dominating pop culture. In a remote working environment, these interactions are often much less frequent. This can increase feelings of isolation and potentially have a negative impact on employee engagement.
Therefore, it’s important to establish a culture that encourages personal connections and interactions. Some ways you can build this framework into a remote work environment include:
Employees are typically more engaged when they understand the goals they are trying to achieve and the expectations regarding what constitutes success in their role. Make sure all goals, expectations and success metrics are clearly stated and mutually agreed upon. This will help ensure your team remains focused and engaged when working remotely.
The physical and mental wellbeing of your employees will significantly impact their happiness and productivity. Remote working offers employees a variety of benefits, but it also increases the likelihood that they will experience social isolation and feel compelled to work longer hours. This can lead to burnout, which will negatively impact employee engagement and employee retention.
Therefore, it’s crucial to create a remote work culture that places an emphasis on health and wellness. This will not only have a positive impact on your employees’ lives, but it will show them that you truly care about them. Some ways to create this culture include:
Employees tend to remain more engaged when they feel appreciated and their accomplishments are recognized. Often, it’s easy for this recognition to fall off the radar in a remote work environment. To ensure this doesn’t happen, build these moments of appreciation and recognition into your company’s remote work culture.
There are many ways to recognize employee accomplishments:
Navigating the challenges of maintaining employee engagement in a remote work environment can be a daunting process. If you need assistance with establishing a strong remote working culture at your company, Premier Employer Services can help. Our HR consultants have extensive experience helping companies who have shifted to a remote work environment establish a framework for success in their new work model.
Our unique Elevated Engagement Plus Approach™ is focused on helping you build a more inspired and engaged team. We understand that every company has a unique culture and workforce dynamic. We take the time to understand how these factors impact your business in order to create a custom program that will set your team up for success.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
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