Many employees have appreciated the opportunity to work from home, but not all of them, and some workers feel disconnected and isolated. If you plan to make remote working a part of your company, you need ways of keeping remote workers connected to their jobs and colleagues.
Make regular contact
One important step is maintaining regular contact through formal meetings and informal check-ins. Managers should tailor these check-ins to the staffers’ particular needs. For example, some employees are more comfortable working independently, while others require more coaching and encouragement.
Of course, not all office interaction is business-related. “Watercooler talk” can help cultivate cohesion and teamwork. Plan virtual coffee breaks, birthday celebrations, or trivia contests to provide such opportunities. Another idea is to schedule group wellness activities, such as yoga or guided meditation.
Also, remember that recognition and rewards can help build a loyal and enthusiastic staff. Unfortunately, some of these programs may have fallen by the wayside when your organization moved to remote work. If so, return to acknowledging and rewarding employee efforts publicly.
Managers and employees need to respect one another’s schedules. For example, meeting times should consider whether attendees are in different time zones. Remember, too, that employees working from home often must juggle family responsibilities. So don’t expect people to drop everything to make themselves available for impromptu meetings.
To avoid burnout, discourage employees from becoming 24/7 workers. Cloud computing and mobile devices make that all too easy. It would help if you stressed to employees that they aren’t expected to work outside regular hours or respond to off-hours emails.
Be a Leader
As always, you and your managers must remember that the staff takes cues from those in leadership positions because their behavior and attitudes reinforce and propel your organizational culture. So set an inspiring example: Demonstrate compassion and empathy in your interactions, communicate clearly, and show flexibility and an openness to ongoing change.
To ensure you know how staffers feel and whether they believe their needs are being met while working remotely, conduct occasional surveys. Also, communicate that your (virtual) door is always open should a staffer want to discuss any issues or recommend ideas. Coming up with creative ways of keeping remote workers connected to their jobs and colleagues may improve employee retention.