Remote work arrangements are becoming more commonplace, with companies increasingly relying on an agile workforce that extends beyond the boundaries of a physical office space. In a 2018 survey of hiring managers, 63 percent of managers said they already have a remote employee on their team, and 38 percent of managers predict that their employees will be predominately remote by 2028.
For many organizations, having remote employees offers a number of benefits, a key one being the flexibility to attract talent from a larger pool. In addition, remote employees may also be more productive, as they’re away from typical office distractions such as background noise and watercooler talk. However, for remote employees, there are some challenges associated with being away from the main office. Here are some frustrations your remote employees may not be sharing with you, and how to address them:
Being away from colleagues in a remote location can limit a person’s ability to stay in the loop when tweaks are made to a project or when responsibilities shift on the team. Being remote can also mean being the last to know when changes happen. A survey of remote and non-remote employees found that remote employees are more likely to feel that their coworkers leave them out and make changes to projects without telling them beforehand.
Being remote doesn’t have to mean being uninformed or out of the loop. Tools such as a robust company intranet, an internal networking tool, or org chart software can help ensure your remote employees are always in the know when new members of the team are hired or a new company initiative is introduced. A live org chart, for example, provides a clear and accurate view of the organization and can also highlight team and individual accountabilities. It can also sync with employee calendars and contacts and integrate with collaboration platforms such as Slack, making it easier for people to connect and communicate on a deeper level.
With limited opportunities for face-to-face conversation, remote employees may also struggle to develop deep and meaningful connections with coworkers. Without chances to stop by a coworker’s desk or catch up over coffee at the start of the workday, your remote employees may be missing out on chances to bond with the rest of the team.
Thankfully, there are many ways to naturally encourage remote and non-remote employees to get to know one another and develop stronger relationships. Some possible solutions include:
Conducting team meetings over video, allowing time at the beginning or end of each meeting for informal discussion
Periodically inviting remote employees to an off-site or team-building session to encourage individuals to get to know one another on a deeper level
Implementing a live org chart with customizable profiles that employees can populate with facts about themselves, such as where they went to school or special skills
Despite research that shows remote employees can be highly productive, it’s not always clear just how much effort they put into specific tasks, which can cause them to overcompensate to prove their value. One company with a fully remote workforce found that remote employees often feel stressed by the need to show everyone what they’re doing, causing them to work longer hours at an unhealthy pace.
To help your remote employees realize they’re valued, it’s a good idea to recognize their efforts as well as their results. Research shows that recognition is a top way to help employees feel happier and more engaged at work, and that goes for remote employees, too. Virtual feedback and brainstorming sessions can also be a good way to provide remote employees with more opportunities to share their ideas, talk about what they’re working on, and offer helpful insights to the team.
These days, workforce collaboration isn’t limited to gathering the whole team in a conference room to share ideas and information. However, your remote employees might wish they had more opportunities to collaborate with the team, especially if they’re in a different time zone. There are many team collaboration software options to consider, including those that use a combination of text, chat, and video to help teams organize projects, share ideas, and provide input on processes in real time. Modern collaboration technology can be fully accessible to every member of your team, no matter where they’re located, helping the team collaborate with ease.
Remote working has changed the workplace in many ways, but that doesn’t mean employees have to feel out of the loop just because they’re not in the office. With the aid of modern technology and a fresh approach to employee management, you can help your remote employees feel informed, engaged, and like full members of the team.