Remote work has officially reached its “norm” status — and lost some of its bloom. At this point, nearly six out of 10 people say they could work virtually at least one day each week, according to McKinsey.
But as many employees and companies have found out, working from afar isn’t as easy as it sounds. Rolling out of the bed in the morning only to land at your keyboard doesn’t give you much of a work-life balance barrier. Plus, it can be hard to maintain supervision over a team that’s scattered around the city — or the globe. Oh, and don’t even talk about the isolation factor. When asked, around two-thirds of executive-level professionals said they thought their employees may soon leave their remote jobs to feel more connected.
The solution to these problems is in your hands as a leader of a company. Whether you’re the CEO or a manager with direct reports, you have the ability to improve the employee experience for your colleagues, and you can begin by implementing four specific strategies.
1. Tailor their tech.
If your crew began working remotely during COVID-19, chances are strong that you ended up cobbling together a mishmash of systems and devices. First, pat yourself on the back for collaborative innovation and making things work. Then, get down to business and start evaluating all the tech that your remote workers are using.
Why all the concern over tech? A poor user experience with software or equipment can lead to lowered employee engagement and higher employee dissatisfaction. As we all know, that’s a fast way to decreased productivity as well as an increased risk of turnover.
Raphael Ly is a vice president at Pariveda, which is a people-first strategic services and information technology consulting company that creates change by creatively solving complex, ambiguous problems with its clients. He explains the value of taking these steps.
“Giving people the right tools allows them to focus on their job and create value, whereas poor tools create distractions and inhibit innovation,” he notes. “If you have the appropriate tools, you’d have greater compliance, deeper engagement, increased innovation and endless potential. It’s as simple as that.”
Not sure what types of tech your workers would love to have access to? Send out a survey or conduct one-on-ones. IT and help desk tickets can give you insights into difficulties your remote team is having that you might not be aware of. If you notice a lot of tickets related to problems with the same system, you can use those as a springboard to fix the underlying issue.
2. Embrace the power of asynchronous working.
For decades, the modern working world embraced mostly synchronous workflows. Now, teams are finding much more success when they move to asynchronous work styles, especially ones that are remote.
Let’s say that your department has people in several different cities and maybe a country or two. Depending on time zones, your employees may not logistically be able to sync up their working times so that they’re online in tandem.
This is where asynchronous working comes into the picture. For example, if you use project management software, you can make sure everyone has access to the project they’re working on together. After assigning tasks and applying deadlines, you’ll be able to see the pieces of the project moving forward little by little. Asynchronous working requires upfront planning, but it ensures that no one is left out of the loop.
3. Stay on top of employee sentiments.
You can’t presume to know what your remote employees feel right now about your company, your management style, their development, or anything else. A fast way to begin gathering that information is to send out weekly surveys to gauge their sentiments.
By knowing where your employees at, you can immediately spot anomalies or address overarching issues. After a few weeks, you’ll know the baseline sentiment across your workforce and within departments, and you can track how trends evolve. This allows you to see where your organization stands, especially with virtual workers.
For best results, make sure that at least some of the employee sentiment feedback you collect is kept as anonymous as possible. You’ll be more likely to get accurate, honest answers.
4. Upskill your remote workers.
According to SHRM research, 40% of workers worry that they’re sliding behind the curve when it comes to staying on top of the skills required in their industries and occupations. Remote workers may feel this even more since they have no way of gauging if they’re keeping up with their teammates.
The simplest way to take away these fears is by offering regular learning opportunities, such as setting up quarterly webinars on topics that are trending in your industry or offering monthly online “lunch and learn” events hosted by subject matter experts. If you can swing it in your corporate or departmental budget, provide a route to earn certifications or other credentials. Not all your team members may be interested, but they’ll appreciate that you’re footing the bill for their self-improvement.
Remote teams can be efficient, aligned, and successful. Just make certain that you’re focused on delivering all your remote employees an experience that allows them to bring their best to the table every day.