The COVID-19 caused a major health crisis and an economic downturn but despite these negative effects, we were able to open our eyes to the possibilities of trying new things which the complacency of the old normal did not allow us to. Scientists created vaccines to control the spread of the virus, more and more people are getting into microbusinesses and are doing good with it, schools have educated children out of the four walls of the classroom with the shift to distance learning, and work setups have evolved into what we now practice as telecommuting.
Working from home has gained even more popularity when upon the emergence of the pandemic, especially when it is the only way business owners can keep the operations running. Currently, as cited in SmallBiz Genius (2020), more than 4.3 million people in the United States work remotely, which is about 18% working full time in the remote work setup. At a larger scale, in FlexJobs (2020), over half of the global respondents work remotely at least once a week. These numbers constitute the fact that remote work is gaining traction worldwide.
Worth noting, workers from home feel happier and more productive by 22% compared to those working onsite (Apollo Technical, 2020). Project turnovers are done accurately and fast, employees’ productivity is improved, and remote workers feel less stressed. However, this work setup is not excused from common conundrums any remote employee can be confronted with.
Looking back at Buffer’s State of Remote Work (2019), twenty-two percent had a hard time unplugging themselves off work, nineteen percent feels lonely, seventeen percent has a hard time communicating, ten percent says they are distracted at home while eight percent lacks motivation. Certainly, these things are expected since the telecommuting setup is still a work in progress. Business leaders and human resources are prioritizing effective ways to reduce these incidences and provide for a better work experience. Especially during these trying times of the pandemic, communication, collaboration and engagement are deemed prerequisites to achieve long-term business goals. Here are a few ideas to have happier heads working despite the distance.
Update Your Communication Platform
With the advancements in technology, it is quite impossible for you not to have a designated communication channel or platform where your employees can communicate but when was the last time you updated it? If you are still using Facebook Messenger and group chats to have your employees be in the loop, you are very much left behind. Each app is for a specific purpose and social apps cannot be used to facilitate work discourse. You do not want to mix purely social endeavors with work engagement or you can find employees ranting about you on the same platform. Establish a concrete channel dedicated to pure work banter and demarcates socials from work. Use Zoom, GoToMeeting, Slack, or Asana. Meet your employees face-to-face with video conferencing so the exchange is close enough to be called a real connection. Schedule regular meetings and do some serious check-ins to ensure everyone is doing well and is taken care of.
Revisit Your Benefits Package
Remote employees love benefits — may it be a gift certificate, a food credit for a restaurant, or any perk that can be taken as a token of the company’s appreciation. Perhaps you might want to modify your performance bonus or profit-sharing schemes. Or simply improve your list of remote office perks, maybe a 3-month subscription to Spotify or Netflix? Free food delivered to their doorstep or simply an addition of a wellness program in their daily routines like a nap time of 20-minutes per shift. Anything that you can give as a reward can motivate and encourage them to improve their performance and therefore achieve goals more effectively. When you begin to show your care for your team, they will reciprocate that with reliability and productivity.
Allot a Room for Contributions
In managing a healthy remote culture, you also need to be collaborative as a leader. You should encourage everyone to contribute in discussions, weigh their viewpoints for consideration, and include them even in making big decisions. Asking for their help, suggestions, and advice is tantamount to making them feel heard and appreciated. When your employees feel valued, they are happier and tend to become more engaged at work.
Make Virtual Events That are Fit for Their Needs
Do a needs analysis survey, find out what they are interested in, and act on it. If you found out that there is still a gap between their transition from traditional office to remote work, assist them with encouragement and do a walkthrough. If there is a need to improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills, try fun activities like a virtual escape room where they can solve riddles, look for clues and finish puzzles as a team. This reinforces the skills mentioned, effective communication and engagement. It is also a worthwhile team-building activity. In these challenging times, the key to establishing real connection and engagement with your employees is by meeting them one on one, tapping into their core, and checking how they are really doing. If you want your employees to be engaged, you have to lead by example.
- Employee Engagement Tips For A Happier Remote Work Environment - August 4, 2021