Remote work has now become a significant trend for a majority of organizations globally, and companies are adopting remote work systems to promote employee productivity and work-life balance. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has accelerated the adoption of remote work globally. At present, many organizations prefer remote work to office-based work for their employees, as remote work has several benefits, such as cost savings on office rents, flexibility, less time spent commuting, and the ability to attract a wider variety of talent beyond geographic boundaries.
However, remote work also presents some new challenges, such as the tendency to feel isolated, disengaged, and disconnected from colleagues and the organization as a whole. In today’s modern digital world, employees can communicate from remote locations, but distance can still cause a lack of camaraderie and a feeling of disconnection. Remote work requires creating a sense of community, team spirit, and a strong team culture in the digital environment.
So, how can remote companies foster a sense of community and connection among their remote employees? Here are some effective strategies to ensure workplace productivity, employee motivation, and good communication.
II. Communication is Key
Communication is a crucial aspect of a successful remote team. Remote work often results in feelings of isolation and disconnection, and having inadequate communication compounds this further. Companies should prioritize communication, both formal and informal, with remote employees to create a sense of community and keep everyone up-to-date.
There are different types of communication that organizations can use to keep their remote employees informed and closely aligned. These include synchronous communication, such as video calls, and asynchronous communication, such as email and instant messaging. Both types of communication can be useful for remote teams, depending on the nature of the conversation and the urgency of the message.
To create a sense of community, managers should schedule regular check-ins with remote employees via phone, video calls, emails, or instant messaging tools. They should remain accessible and responsive to employees about work or non-work issues, as it helps build trust and fosters a sense of community.
In addition to regular check-ins, companies can also organize virtual team-building events. These could include virtual games, happy hours, or other informal gatherings that allow employees to bond over shared interests or experiences. These events provide an opportunity for remote employees to get to know one another and build a sense of community, even if they are thousands of miles apart.
Finally, companies must use technology to their advantage. There are different ways of communicating with remote employees, such as videoconferencing tools, project management tools, and messaging apps. Managers must establish the most effective communication channels for their team and ensure that everyone is confident and comfortable when using them.
III. Emphasize the Company Culture
A strong company culture helps employees, whether remote or not, understand the company’s values, mission, and goals. Every company should create a culture deck or document that outlines the company’s culture, including the company’s values, vision, and mission, and should provide remote employees with easy access to it.
The culture deck should include the company’s vision, mission, and core values. It should also outline the behaviors that are acceptable, the expectations for the employees, and the leadership philosophy. By sharing the culture deck with remote employees, they will feel more connected to their company’s mission and work.
Companies can also use different strategies to promote a positive company culture. For instance, they could share company news and updates via a company newsletter or bulletin, or celebrate employee achievements through a recognition program. Recognizing remote employees’ contributions to the organization or celebrating milestones helps foster loyalty and a sense of belonging among remote employees.
Managers should also encourage their remote employees to join internal social media groups or forums. These forums provide a platform for remote employees to share their thoughts, ideas, and experiences, and contribute to the company culture. Managers should make sure that all remote employees feel comfortable sharing their views and ideas in these forums.
IV. Encourage Open Communication and Plenty of Feedback
Encouraging open communication with employees can help managers track employee performance while also building trust, which is particularly important when it comes to remote work arrangements. Organizing regular 1:1 meetings between supervisors and remote employees foster open communication channels, where employees can ask questions, provide insights on their work, and give feedback.
Many employees working in remote settings feel disconnected and frustrated due to the lack of feedback from managers. Frequent feedback from managers can offer encouragement and motivate remote employees to stay engaged, as it serves as a signal that their efforts and contributions are appreciated.
Organizations should establish straightforward feedback systems that work for both the manager and the remote employee to create a positive and productive remote work environment. Managers can give feedback through video calls or messaging apps, especially when it concerns positive feedback. Feedback focused on improvements, however, should be done through a call or video chat.
V. Promote Employee Ownership
Remote work offers a level of flexibility to employees to manage their schedule and the method they utilize to accomplish their duties. Managers should encourage their remote employees to take ownership of their work and be responsible for their own productivity. Empowering employees to make decisions and be creative in their roles helps them to feel valued and motivated.
Organizations should offer their remote employees autonomy in terms of work arrangements. For example, companies can give employees more flexibility in terms of working hours or a choice of work location. Managers should trust and empower their remote employees to create their schedules and work in a way that works best for them.
When employees are part of the decision-making process, they feel more invested in their work and the organization, which in turn increases productivity and morale. Additionally, remote employers can provide training and support for employees to help them take responsibility and feel ownership over their work.
VI. Provide Adequate Training and Development
Organizations should offer training and development opportunities to all remote employees to ensure they are on track with the company’s policies and their role(s). These training sessions can be done through webinars or other virtual conferencing tools to boost engagement and participation.
Training and development opportunities can help remote employees acquire new knowledge and skills, which can help them advance professionally. Additionally, training can improve the employee’s confidence and competence in their role, leading to increased productivity.
Organizations should provide employee training and development opportunities for both soft and hard skills, including technical skills, leadership skills, communication skills, and teamwork skills.
Remote employers can invest in and provide support for employees to obtain certifications related to their work or field. This would provide them with opportunities to grow in their role, gain a sense of pride and ownership of their role, and feel empowered to achieve their potential.
In summary, remote work is becoming a more common reality in modern-day business, and fostering a sense of community and connection between remote employees is key to ensuring productivity, team morale, and employee retention in the long run. Employers can successfully navigate the new remote landscape by prioritizing communication, emphasizing company culture, encouraging open communication, promoting employee ownership, and providing adequate employee training and development. By following these five strategies and committing to creating a cohesive and engaging remote work environment, companies can foster a strong sense of community and keep their remote employees motivated and connected.