The founder of a workplace wellness platform recommends five ways to keep remote staff happy and engaged
From hot desking to flexible hours to working from home, businesses are now enabling employees to cultivate their life in a way that increases job satisfaction and fulfilment.
But with the move towards remote work, we are also seeing new patterns arise, such as employees feeling less connected with themselves and managers. We are connecting with people more easily than ever but the quality of connections we are making today is also changing.
Research shows that employees who work remotely tend to be happier compared to their peers who have less work flexibility, but it can be difficult for them to stay happy if they don’t feel connected with their team. With 70% of people globally working on a remote basis at least one day per week and this number only rising, it is important that we look at how HR leaders make sure remote workers maintain their sense of connection in the process.
Before understanding the support remote workers need, it is important to see what employees might miss out on by working remotely:
- Social connection with colleagues
- Face-to-face collaboration and team dynamics
- Out-of-office leisure
- Relationship building and camaraderie
- A voice in decision making and input
- Feeling appreciated
How can HR and business leaders ensure remote staff are happy and engaged?
Hold community activities, events and volunteer work
Help employees find activities, volunteer opportunities and events they can participate in and build a community around, wherever they are in the world. Volunteering and community events inspire a sense of belonging, connectedness, purpose and self-value in the employee.
Thank and appreciate remote staff
Gifts and thank-you notes are a great way to show that you are thinking of your employees despite the distance. Sending something tangible, such as office stationery or gadget accessories, to help with their work gives employers a chance to follow through their words of affirmation with concrete action.
Be inclusive when planning
Include travel for remote workers in the budget for the year, so they can attend workplace events, training and team building. HR leaders know the benefit of investing in the training and development of staff – remote workers included. Where travel is not possible, always include the whole team in meetings and invite them to be a part of the decision making and planning process.
Stay connected digitally
Connecting with remote workers globally is easy with tools such as Google Hangouts, Zoom and Slack. Take a planned approach to checking in and show that you are there as support and are available to answer questions. Lead by example and involve the entire team.
Take time to build relationships
From understanding what remote workers are missing out on, we can see the importance of building relationships. This can all be done digitally but it also helps to add some creativity and excitement. For instance, set up 15-minute coffee dates once a month between employees who have never met or give them the chance to dial into a video chat and connect.
With the right initiatives from the employer, remote staff can be as productive as, if not more than, teams working under one roof.
HR leaders need to take proactive steps to motivating and supporting them. By implementing initiatives as suggested above, employers may see a boost in positive mental health and happiness and increase productivity at the same time.
Kietah Martens-Shaw is CEO and founder of B.OKideas, which helps business and HR leaders build a more supportive and inclusive work environment.