Remote work has become increasingly popular in recent years, and even more so as the world undergoes a massive shift towards digitalisation. With the help of modern technology, it has become easier and more feasible to work from just about anywhere. Remote work policies have proven an ideal solution for enterprises that want to gain a competitive advantage, enhance productivity and efficiency, reduce overhead costs, and provide better work-life balance for their employees.
While remote work offers a lot of benefits, it can also be challenging, particularly for the most experienced remote workers. Remote work can be isolating and challenging, and maintaining employee morale and motivation can be difficult. Therefore, businesses, particularly those that have shifted to or are considering remote work policies, need to keep their employees engaged, happy, and productive.
In this blog post, we will look at ways to keep your remote employees engaged, happy, and productive through connection-building and effective communication. We will go into detailed strategies that can be implemented to foster excellent communication, create social opportunities, provide resources and equipment, offer work-life balance, and recognise remote employees’ efforts to ensure that they are as productive as they can be.
Benefits of Remote Work
Remote work offers several benefits to businesses as well as its employees. Some of the benefits of remote work include:
- Increased productivity and efficiency: Remote work policies give employees the flexibility to work when they feel most productive, eliminating the need to work when they are not productive.
- Operational cost savings: Remote work policies can save businesses money as they eliminate the need for rental office space, utilities, and equipment.
- Work-life balance: Remote work policies offer employees the flexibility to work from home, allowing them more time to spend with their families, friends, personal hobbies or interests.
- Employer and employee savings: Remote work policies offer employers and employees alike the benefit of saving up on transportation and other incidental costs that come with traditional office work.
- Geographical flexibility: Remote work policies give employees the opportunity to work from anywhere, meaning they do not have to relocate to live near where their employers’ offices are.
Communication: The Key to Successful Remote Work
Communication is the most significant aspect of remote work. Remote employees are not physically in the office, so they are prone to feeling isolated and disconnected. To ensure remote employee engagement, employers should place a lot of emphasis on communication. One-on-one and team video conferencing, instant messaging apps, and phone calls can be used to communicate more effectively.
To ensure communication is successful in remote work settings, employers should establish a clear communication policy, ensuring that employees are aware of the communication channels and guidelines for every type of communication. Employers should also encourage remote employees to ask questions and provide feedback.
Regular check-ins with employees not only provide an opportunity to discuss work-related issues but also help to promote a positive employer-employee relationship. Employers can use these sessions to assess an employee’s workload and productivity, discuss objectives and goals, and offer necessary support.
Aside from routine check-ins and feedback, creating a company-wide chat or messaging system can also ease the feeling of disconnection many employees may experience. Remote workers may miss the spontaneous conversations that happen naturally in an office setting. Having a chat system designed for both work and casual communication can help foster a sense of community that remote workers may miss.
Building Connections through Social Activities
Remote work can be a solitary experience, lacking the daily interactions that come with working in an office. Isolation can negatively affect employees’ mental health and lead to decreased productivity. Therefore employers need to create opportunities for remote employees to interact socially and build relationships to feel like they’re part of a team.
Social activities, whether they are virtual or in-person, are an excellent way to bond employees across regions and teams and develop a sense of community. Social activities can range from virtual happy hours, team-building exercises, to in-person retreats, depending on the company’s resources and preferences.
Virtual coffee or lunch breaks, weekly happy hours, games, and even book clubs can aid employee bonding while working remotely. Encouraging remote employees to share pictures of their home office or even their pets can help build connections and make them feel more comfortable in their remote surroundings.
In-person team-building retreats can also be an excellent way for teams to solidify relationships and even forge new ones. Weekend excursions can be planned or remote workers can travel to a centralised location to spend time bonding with their team.
Remote employee engagement starts from the employee’s first day on the job. It is essential to invest time and resources into creating an effective onboarding plan to ensure that new remote workers feel connected and empowered from the start.
Remote onboarding should include a virtual welcome meeting with the employee’s manager, team leaders, and other team members. Activities like virtual tours and interactive sessions demonstrating how to use technology, virtual employee handbook, and onboarding checklists can be crucial to make the transition smooth for remote workers.
Mentorship and pairing remote employees with other experienced remote workers can also facilitate better onboarding. It is often said that the first 90 days of employment are crucial to employee retention, and for remote employees, this period can be even more critical in shaping their success.
Access to Resources and Equipment
Remote employees require access to the right tools and resources to do their job correctly, and employers need to provide them with the necessary equipment and technology. Without proper equipment and technology, remote employees can be less productive, negatively affecting their engagement and job satisfaction.
Employers must provide remote employees with a stable internet connection, laptops, communication software, office supplies, and cloud storage solutions, to name but a few. The list of equipment and resources that remote employees may need varies by the job type and industry, so employers should consider these specific needs when developing a remote employee program.
Remote workers should also have access to tools that help them monitor their productivity and organise their workflow. Tools such as project management software, time tracking, and virtual calendars can aid in organising tasks and ensuring that deadlines are met.
Providing a Balanced Work-Life
One of the essential benefits of remote work is work-life balance. Employees are drawn to remote work for the flexibility it offers, the ability to work when they feel most productive and to balance family and personal life. Employers should respect this balance and create a work environment that inspires their employees to live a balanced life.
Companies should consider implementing flexible schedules, organising work differently, or encouraging employees to take time off when necessary. Employees who feel supported in taking care of their personal and work commitments are less likely to burn out, and this will ultimately be reflected in their engagement and productivity.
Remote Employee Recognition
Appreciating and recognising employees is one of the most effective ways to improve employee engagement, morale, and job satisfaction. Recognition for remote workers’ achievements could look different from recognition for office-based employees.
Employers can recognise remote workers in many ways, including electronic congratulations, a wall of fame on the company’s website or job-specific recognition, and awarding extra vacation time or bonuses.
Additionally, implementing a recognition program that values significant accomplishments by employees can help cultivate a culture of excellence and motivation, which ultimately leads to improved engagement and performance.
Encourage and Facilitate Professional Growth
Professional growth and development are crucial for remote employees’ continued success and engagement at their job. Employers should provide opportunities for remote employees to expand their knowledge and skills, enhance their leadership abilities, and gain experience in new areas.
Remote employees should be encouraged to attend conferences, training programs, or seminars. Employer-supported classes or courses can also help remote employees enhance their current skills or develop new ones. Even independent study, such as reading books, listening to industry-related podcasts, or researching industry-related publications, can help remote employees stay up to date with changes in their field and feel more engaged in their work.
Remote work is flexible, cost-effective, and allows workers to choose their preferred location, but its successful implementation relies on keeping remote employees engaged and motivated. Engaged employees are productive workers, and it’s more challenging to create engagement when the workforce is distributed.
Implementing the above tips and best practices can help foster an engaged remote workforce, which drives organizational success. Effective communication, building connections through social activities, effective onboarding, providing access to resources, offering work-life balance, and finding ways to recognise and reward remote employees’ efforts can help remote employees thrive and benefit organisations.
Remote work can create opportunities but also presents unique challenges. Employers who understand the importance of developing and nurturing a culture where their remote employees can thrive will find that their remote work policies can lead to increased innovation, productivity, and ultimately, success.