As we continue to navigate this “new normal,” more employers are evaluating the future of their workplace arrangements. Realistically, it’s now impossible to turn an eye on the growing appeal of remote work. As more companies understand the importance of a proper home office set up, they also become more adept at promoting a more stable home office environment for their employees.
Over the last two years, workforce talent has gotten better at working remotely. They’ve grown more educated about security—in part due to company efforts, but also because many of us are generally more aware about its importance. To overcome home office issues, they’ve taken steps to improve their internet connectivity and remote work habits to ensure maximum productivity. They’ve also learned how to handle home office aspects better, such as work-life balance and their general well-being.
However, working from the office might still be the choice for some employees who can’t address all aspects of their remote arrangements. Because of this, organizations should continue offering onsite work as an option.
A Change of Mentality
Many are beginning to steer towards hybrid set-ups and fully remote work. This, of course, allows employees to leave overpopulated cities for cheaper and better accommodations away from bustling business districts. Moreover, time spent sitting in traffic on daily commutes can instead be allocated to quality time with family or attending to other personal needs. So, for those who prefer remote work, there’s a better work-life integration and balance because they have more time and energy for activities they normally didn’t have time for.
In a survey done by global firm McKinsey, 58% of American employees—across various industries— reported they have the opportunity to work from home for at least once a week. A whopping 65% of employed respondents said they’d be willing to go fully remote, if possible. In addition, a separate survey by Buffer in 2021 indicated that 82% of companies who responded were able to transition to remote work smoothly.
In the above McKinsey survey, 87% of respondents said they will readily accept flexible or hybrid arrangements, if available to them. Each company should weigh their own pros and cons on the impact of remote work on their processes. For instance, fully remote work may not be the best route for companies overseeing highly sensitive information and in industries where physical work is the bread and butter, such as in manufacturing and logistics.
However, we must start leaving behind the antiquated assumption that an indicator of an employee’s productivity is seeing them glued to their desk and tapping away on their keyboard the entire day. We won’t be able to move with the times when we let our apprehensions color the inevitable transition to full-time remote arrangements. Fortunately, there are multiple productivity tools and dashboards readily available for companies to use to track productivity and outputs.
Redefining Employee Engagement
Much like how we embrace the shifting industry and customer needs, employers must have a pulse on the changing employment landscape to improve employee retention and attract the right talent pool.
There are numerous ways to look at engagement. Company-wide initiatives, such as webinars, contests, and surveys, are a fantastic way to regulate and track the engagement your employees receive. Meanwhile, you can target engagement in a more personal manner, such as improving benefits packages, making employees feel valued, and more.
Here are seven ways you can improve employee engagement for remote work employees.
1. Give employees a voice
Companies that put a prime on fairness and equality know that listening to your employees is just as important as listening to your customers. Company surveys and social listening tools help companies consider what their employees need, want, and should receive to be fruitful and successful members of the organization.
A fitting example is offering options on whether they wish to remain full-time on-site, on hybrid arrangements, or completely remote. This move can help retain more employees because their opinions feel counted and honored.
2. Stay connected
Leaders must foster personal connections with their teams. Open communication lines are more important than ever. It doesn’t mean that you disregard your work-life boundaries, rather, you must be approachable and open to what your employees have to say.
Set aside one-on-one time with your employees to check in on their personal and professional well-being. It’s about time that we humanize how employees view their leaders. Looping them in big and small updates create a comfortable working environment where no one feels left behind.
3. Show appreciation
Plenty of managers and leaders tend to have a pinhole view on reaching targets, therefore, making their vision for success too calculated and automatic. Yes, we congratulate top performers—we may even reward them handsomely. But every member has a contribution that adds up to the company’s wins.
Show appreciation for the efforts of your virtual employees. Recognize their contributions and show them that they are valued in the institution. How you want to go about it is up to you but make them feel valued regardless.
4. Be flexible
Practicing compassion and empathy towards ourselves and our employees goes a long way. The entire world is still operating within health guidelines and an endless stream of grief and trauma that no one anticipated. Many people are intent on keeping the “grind culture” alive, yet we must understand that the circumstances we are in already puts a lot of strain on various parts of our lives.
We all manage on different planes, and not one of us are at 100% pre-pandemic capacity. Being flexible—in whatever value we can afford employees—will go a long way in ensuring their trust, well-being, and loyalty.
5. Provide tools for them to succeed
Tools shouldn’t only mean peripherals, a working Internet connection, and productivity apps. There should be a complete view on the tools needed for success. Ask yourself or your team these questions to assess the tools you offer for your employees:
- Are development opportunities and curricula open for employees of all levels, including leadership?
- Do salary and benefits packages correctly correspond to the responsibilities handled?
- Are employees given access to health and wellness activities, care, and more?
- Do leaders provide the right kind of support and guidance for virtual employees to perform at their full potential?
What special benefits can be provided for exceptional circumstances? For example, stipends for those who don’t have a home office; a relocation package; a single parent package; or an allowance for those who need to report to the office full-time or on hybrid terms.
6. Empower your remote work employees
Empowered employees know how to wield the tools you provide them to succeed—whether you can physically see them in the office all day or just for a little while on your screen. They are more likely to also drive creativity in their teams while also improving their accountability on issues that may arise. When remote employees feel trusted and supported, they are more likely to be confident in their jobs and motivated to bring their best selves to work every day.
7. Create a sense of community for employees
What role do employees have in creating conditions for the employees to develop personal relationships and stay connected with their colleagues? With the potentially solitary nature of remote work, it’s important to check on each other and grow the relationships we have with our teammates. Thanks to technology, it’s been easier to create a virtual community for employees across the globe.
We must look beyond structured meetings to nurture a community. Ask leaders to take time within meetings to connect with each other on a more personal level. Host virtual meetups, casual hangouts, and events to continuously engage your communities. Encourage them to engage in virtual teambuilding activities and town hall meetings. Give employees time to kick back and get to know their peers beyond data and presentations.
Enhance your knowledge on recruitment and employee engagement in a post-pandemic world. Download the Winning the Recruitment Race and Ryan Strategic Advisory’s Our New Work-from-Home World white papers today!