Remote work has become increasingly popular over the last decade as more people look for work-life balance, and it has exploded in popularity in the last two years. Some experts anticipate that 25% of all professional roles will be virtual in some capacity by 2023.
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. Flexible schedule is officially a benefit that will either bring you candidates or make candidates go with another offer.
Essentially, remote work has become a permanent fixture in the work landscape. Its benefits for recruiting, retention, and even productivity are hard to beat, but for remote work to be successful in any company, employees have to be engaged. However, some remote workers may find themselves lonely or disconnected.
To combat the potential for employees to become disengaged, disconnected, or burned out, try the following tips for engaging your remote employees.
Focus on Remote Workers’ Mental Health to Combat Burnout
One risk remote work entails is that for many employees, the boundaries between work and life become blurred. They may spend far too long in front of their screen, or work later into the evening than they would if they were in the office. These actions can ultimately have a negative impact on your teams’ mental health, and while they may be highly engaged for a while, they may eventually burn out.
To ensure your employees are not only taking care of business, but also taking care of themselves, try the following strategies:
- Hold standing one-on-one meetings with team members to stay up to date on their work, as well as if they’re feeling overwhelmed by their workload
- Encourage employees to take short breaks throughout the day
- Include mental health and wellness tips and resources in company-wide communications
- Remind employees they should still be utilizing their PTO. Just because you’re working from home does not mean your job is any less stressful.
Use the Right Tools for Communicating With Remote Teams
Working remotely or from home is different from in-person work in many ways, but perhaps most notably in the way communication is done. In the workspace, you can pop into someone’s office, speak directly to the person across from you, or chat with coworkers at the coffee station or water cooler. However, at home, many of the ways employees regularly communicate are missing.
Help eliminate the friction that can prevent employees from staying engaged by leaning on a variety of communication channels like these:
- Instant messaging (Slack, Microsoft Teams)
- Phone and cell phone link capabilities
- Video options (Zoom, Ring Central)
Try Some Fun Ways to Engage Remote Employees
Company culture is one of the most important factors for engaging and retaining employees, and will lead to increased performance as well. However, many businesses forget to focus on it after transitioning to remote work. Don’t shy away from scheduling time for team-bonding, getting creative, or other activities that build culture.
Don’t know where to start? Try an activity like one of these:
- Trivia competitions
- Happy hour/social hour via Zoom (or even schedule them in-person if possible)
- Themed attire for department meetings
- Movie night
The 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). Equipping your remote employees with items like a second monitor, ergonomic chair, or simply adapter cords can go a long way in keeping them engaged, productive and happy.
- Do regular check-ins by instant message or phone to stay connected and engaged with your team. We recommend weekly team meetings where people can ask for help, give updates, and catch up on what’s new in their team’s lives.
- Allow remote workers to participate in any activities that on-site workers participate in. Make sure to include remote workers on committees, like an employee engagement committee, to get feedback on what activities they enjoy.
Remote workers are ideal for companies that promote flexible scheduling, want to hire top talent in a competitive labor market, or save on office space. 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.