Updated: Feb 4
Remote employees are becoming the new normal for many organizations throughout the business community. According to recent research that was conducted by Global Workplace Analytics, employees enjoy the flexibility that comes with remote work, but also love the collaboration that comes with onsite employment.
However, transferring to remote work hasn't been the easiest for everyone. The truth is that many employees' personality types and working styles must be top of mind when looking to maintain a healthy workforce right now. Employers must encourage a balance between work and personal time. Below are a few ways that leaders can help create and maintain a healthy and productive remote work environment.
1. Trust is essential
It's imperative that remote employees not be made to feel like they must prove that they are spending their time productively. This is especially important for parents and caregivers who may not be working the same schedule as employees who primarily work 9-5 in an office environment. In truth, they may be working more, but also may be working at different times depending on their availability, and thus shouldn't necessarily be viewed in the same light.
Building trust begins with remote inclusivity from leadership, and engaging remote personnel may be challenging for leaders that are more comfortable with a traditional office environment. Take the time to grasp your remote personnel's essential needs and construct a strategy to connect and deploy it with empathy.
You must also realize that the flexibility that is found in remote workers' schedules is by no means a thing to fear or avoid. In fact, the research indicates that remote people have better productivity when they can follow their own schedules.
Remote employee engagement doesn't imply forcing your external people into the same format as your onsite staff. Flexible working is all about being adaptable, and you'll construct a healthier culture around your remote team if you extend trust and latitude.
2. Set up a regular cadence for communication
There are lots of benefits to remote working and managing a remote crew. Fewer distractions from the conventional workplace environments will lead to higher contributions from these teams, with lower strain, and improved morale.
Conversely, remote working can also contribute to feelings of isolation and disconnection. Spontaneous, yet meaningful conversations around ongoing work that appear face-to-face inside the workplace can inadvertently exclude remote employees if interactions aren't proactively scheduled. Remember that almost all remote socializing occurs during scheduled meetings, calls, or conferences. Teams should also agree on what's suitable for direct messages, calendar sharing, scheduling, response expectations, and reply times during breaks.
It's important to establish team norms in terms of sharing data and critical information. This will ensure that personnel in the office and working remotely will all get the same information, resources, and insight around important business projects. This approach can lessen those emotions of confusion, limit the possibility of misunderstandings, and make sure that the lines of communication with remote staff remain open and productive.
3. Investing in resources
Remote people need reliable technology. Organizations must commit to supplying these resources for their employees in the same way that an onsite employee would have access to them. Likewise, make sure your entire company, both onsite and remote, is set up with capable chat software and video conferencing options. If you frequently use video chat, take the time to set up the proper equipment in the conference room, similarly so, make sure remote employees are not excluded from participating in these crucial meetings.
Additionally, it's essential to offer remote employees with thorough privacy and security training. While remote employees will have the flexibility to work at home, in public areas like coffee stores or co-working locations, it's crucial that they understand the way to secure data that is inevitably going to be on their machines.
Finally, this investment in resources applies to training and educating your frontline management team. Make sure every supervisor in your enterprise has formal education on working successfully with remote and distributed workers. This enables you to build a superior culture of inclusivity and eliminate any biases individual managers may have towards remote work. In turn, this approach in training will help you foster and create equal opportunities at your company for team members to work remotely as their skills and needs evolve.
4. Make time for real interactions
When it comes to remote worker engagement, remember that face-to-face socializing may be one of the most vital elements in managing mistrust and enhancing coworker relationships.
If you have employees in locations outside of your regular office locations, make sure to connect with them when you travel into those regions. Whether this ends up as a business meeting or just some coffee, you can take time to get to know them, what is going on in their lives, or simply ask for recommendations about the area. This approach will help facilitate stronger relationships while getting a better feel for where they live and work.
If it's feasible for remote team members to go to the office occasionally, make it viable for them to do this for holiday parties or other events. These are notable opportunities for worksite and remote workers to mingle and get to know each other better.
Equally crucial, is that employees whose positions don't permit them to travel have the opportunity of feeling included during these types of events. Consider setting up fun or competitive team events so that remote workers can be dialed in on video chat to participate. You should also create time for regular open conversations that don't have to be driven by a work agenda.
5. Be a champion for your remote staff
It can be very easy for remote employees to feel neglected in meetings, social events, and even leadership opportunities and career advancement opportunities. This mustn't happen. Building a culture that proactively embraces the remote worker is imperative to a long-term remote staff approach.
One manner to make sure remote workers feel wholly connected in meetings is to designate an advocate for your remote team, who can monitor communications like the chat function to give them an opportunity for input. For your remote employees, knowing that they have got a unique channel that helps avoid the feeling that they aren't full participants in the conversation. For onsite employees, remote advocacy builds habits of adding in pauses and check-in procedures to meetings that help ensure everyone can have their voice heard.
Don't forget that everyone, including your remote people, has a desire to be recognized for their contributions. Take the time to share employee achievements over your company-wide meetings and communications that include opportunities for your remote staff members. Today's digital platforms can make it easier to equally celebrate your onsite and offsite employees and make them feel like they both have a voice. This approach can help ensure that your remote employees maintain a sense of connection and involvement to maintain a cohesive corporate culture.
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