Remote work was already on the rise, and whilst our hands may have been forced to embrace it, it is vital we adapt to this new way of working to ensure we provide the best experience possible for our employees, regardless of location. The benefits of remote work extend far beyond reducing travel costs and cutting the time spent commuting for employees, to improved employee retention, reduced recruiting and retention costs, productivity benefits, and overall profitability with a reduction in company overheads.

However, it is important to note that, embracing remote work and allowing employees to work from home during a pandemic are two very different things. In this article, we will discuss the difference between the two and how to improve the experience of remote workers.

Allowing remote work vs embracing remote work?

Giving your employee a laptop and saying whilst the office is shut, you may now work from home, is not a sustainable model for remote working. As offices begin to reopen, you as an employer have the option to decide how you embrace remote work, will you continue to offer work from home? Will you create a hybrid model? Or will you recall your team to the office (where possible)? 

Regardless of the model you choose, you should be considering a change management program. A change management program will enable you to create a successful, sustainable, and comprehensive model that will work for your business and ensure an improved experience for your team. At ThinkShare, when we undergo change management for our clients, we begin with risk identification, resource creation, and workforce training. Embracing remote work is not just about changing your employee’s work location, it is about enhancing their experience and work-life balance.

The importance of employee engagement for remote workers

Building employee engagement is key to preventing remote workers from feeling isolated. Professional isolation is usually more informational, than it is social so whilst a virtual catch up on a Friday afternoon can be a nice touch, keeping employees engaged goes beyond that. We need to connect our people to the company culture, to each other, and more importantly the resources they need to do their job well.

The key aspects to building engagement for remote workers

Whilst there are limitless combinations of methods, research, and technology to engage and communicate with your employees, in our experience the three key aspects of your employee engagement program are channels, training, and your policies. 

Firstly, if possible, unify your communications into a single channel so your team can easily find answers and connect with the people they need. In businesses with too many tools, workflows can get cluttered and productivity can suffer as a result. Limiting our teams to one or two channels, max ensures unity and accessibility.

Following the first step, its time to focus on training your teams, with an emphasis on emotional intelligence (here is an article from Forbes to help with building emotional intelligence in your employees). Encourage soft skills, as it is these little things that allow for a human to human connection. Whilst we may be using digital tools to facilitate our conversations we are still talking to people, so let’s use these tools to build trust, empathy for our colleagues, and critical thinking for clearer decision making.  

Finally, set expectations. One of the biggest challenges we have found with remote working is when a manager’s expectations are not in alignment with that of their team. What works for one company, may not work for another so build, and more importantly, communicate the policies that reflect your culture and the workflows you want them to embrace to ensure your team is all on the same page. Set specific policies for your remote workers. If you expect them to be online at certain times let them know if internal meetings can be interrupted by family but client calls should be as quiet as possible, articulate that to your teams.

You will have heard that remote work is “the new normal” and for the time being this may be so. But that does not mean the processes you implemented in March to facilitate this, need to be the processes you rely on going forward. By ensuring streamlined communications, upskilling your team, and aligning your expectations with that of your teams you can begin to engage your employees and take advantage of the benefits of remote work.

If you are looking to understand how you can utilise technology to improve the experience of your remote workers further, then contact us today. We would love to be part of your tea.