Businesses are facing an unprecedented time amid social distancing. Workforces are pushed to working remotely if possible, with fewer and fewer employees in the office. Business owners may be asking themselves, is working remotely best for my company? In 2018 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 23.7% of the U.S. population worked at home for at least some hours.
Remote work has become increasingly popular over the last decade as more people look for work life balance. Remote work can provide flexibility for those employees who are more productive at certain times of the day or who need to pick up a child from school or daycare. Remote workers have less stress; they don’t have to worry about commuting into work, what they are going to wear for the day, or office politics. However, some remote workers may find themselves lonely. With no one to talk to all day, employees may not feel engaged or connected to the company.
How to Keep Remote Staff Engaged
Ensure you have a virtual open-door policy so that direct management can be available for contact often. Management should consider having standing meetings or one-on-one meetings with each team member consistently. It’s equally important to use multiple methods of communication.
Provide a variety of channels for employees to communicate with one another.
- Instant messaging (Slack, Microsoft Teams)
- Phone and cellphone link capabilities
- Video options (Zoom, Ring Central)
Schedule time for team-bonding and get creative.
- Trivia competitions
- Happy hour/social hour
- Themed attire for department meetings
- Movie night
Importance of Supporting Your Remote Workers
Here’s what our Society Insurance employees had to say about supporting remote workers:
Employee #1– “I think it’s most important to make remote employees feel like they’re still working in the physical office. Instead of making remote employees feel like they’re all by themselves in their homes, remote employees should feel connected with the business.”
Employee #2– “It can be challenging to feel connected while remote working as you are in your own home with no face to face contact with colleagues. Fostering communication with remote workers is key to keeping them engaged and feeling a part of the team and company while working remotely. After working from home for roughly 5 years, I have learned to reach out to my coworkers via instant messenger or phone to feel connected while working from home. I also have learned to take that quick five-minute break and to step away to recharge. I find that when I work from home I hunker down and work longer without getting up, versus when I am in the office and having a conversation with a coworker or getting something to drink.”
Employee #3 – “Working remotely can be lonely. Being engaged and connected constantly with your coworkers can make it feel like you’re working right next to them. Collaborating with your team through apps like Microsoft Teams sprouts new ideas by bouncing them off one another.”
- Provide the same equipment to remote workers that employees use in the office (if that’s what they prefer)
- Do regular check-ins over instant message or over the phone to stay connected and engaged
- Allow remote workers to participate in any activities that on-site workers participate in
Remote workers are ideal for companies that promote flexible scheduling. Exploring remote work options for your company could be important for unforeseen closures such as bad weather, natural disasters or other crises. Check out Society Insurance’s disaster series for additional planning ideas or read, ‘How to Leave Work at Work When You Work From Home’ for helpful tips on striking a balance when working remotely.
If your company chooses to allow employees to work remote, create a game plan using the tips above to engage employees for success.