Remote work, and its accompanying challenges, existed long before the pandemic. But we have become more hyper-aware of remote employees’ needs and struggles since so many people made the shift. One of the ways we’ve come to understand remote employees is through surveys like The COVID-19 Pulse of HR survey. From it came a few meaningful ways to support remote employees:
1. Maintain five elements of communication
Nearly half (47%) of respondents cited effective communication as crucial to their transition to remote work. So, what really goes into effective communication? It can be broken down into five different elements:
- Frequent. Communicate often, but not always in the form of an email or chat message. Alternative types of communication like virtual town halls, Zoom meetings, webinars, and video updates can be more effective.
- Transparent. Employees appreciate when leaders explain decisions and the rationale behind them. They want to know what is going on regarding business impact, decision-making, and feedback.
- Two-way. Being able to share feedback and ask questions anonymously is greatly valued by employees. Use tools like weekly pulse surveys or dedicated email accounts for concerns and questions.
- Easy to navigate. Remote employees find centralized information hubs very helpful. Make it easy for them to find online training, policies, archived messages, and other resources.
- Consistent. The most cited obstacle to effective communication was conflicting messages from different parts of the organization. It’s important to send a unified message to remote workers, front-line employees, customers, stakeholders, and beyond.
2. Support physical and mental health
It’s no surprise employees voiced concerns for physical wellbeing protection amidst the pandemic. Some examples are company sponsored COVID tests and flu vaccines. What may come as a surprise – Employees were nearly twice as likely to praise support for mental wellness.
Social isolation can be a major challenge for remote workers. The best ways managers can combat this is through regular one-on-one check ins. Specifically checking in to see how employees are doing both professionally and personally. Additional solutions are virtual social activities and corporate initiatives designed for managing stress.
3. Help employees stay productive and engaged
Remote work can boost productivity for standalone tasks but decrease productivity for team-oriented tasks. Ensure your remote employees have the resources to collaborate with their team. Frequent, short meetings can boost productivity and keep them focused.
Productivity and engagement go hand in hand. Daily huddles and meetings will also keep employees engaged. Engage them in other positive ways with a digital recognition platform. Praise is just as important as getting things done!
4. Encourage work-life balance (despite the paradox)
Remote work creates a bit of a paradox. On one hand, working from home cuts out commutes, which allows for schedule flexibility and time spent at home with family. On the other hand, the boundary between work and personal life can blur. They may feel like they need to be available after hours or log more hours than onsite workers.
Help your remote employees maintain a balance by:
- Allowing the flexibility to work whenever is best (instead of only traditional “9-5” hours)
- Allowing schedule adjustments for personal obligations
- Encouraging employees to stop working at designated log-off times
- Giving an extra day of PTO promoted for rest and relaxation
5. Keep sight of strategic priorities
Understandably, a once-in-a-lifetime crisis distracted leaders from priorities that existed beforehand. It’s time to get back to those objectives. Priorities like improving products or making operations more efficient are still and always will be important.
Their may be new challenges because of the shift to remote work, but there also may be some upsides. About 10% of respondents mentioned remote learning opportunities were one of the most effective steps in building their skills. Remote work opens the door to improve efficiency and accelerate digital transformations.
Ultimately, following through on priorities – as well as the other four tips – will benefit both your employees and your organization!