How to help remote workers feel included

Ricky Fritsch, managing director of Indeed, talks about how to avoid falling into the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ trap of working from home

How to help remote workers feel included

Ricky Fritsch | Credit: Indeed

Seven months into the pandemic, it’s safe to say that working from home is no longer a new and unfamiliar concept. In fact, with many companies announcing that their employees can work from home permanently if they choose, it seems that remote working is here to stay.

While there are lots of benefits to working remotely, there are also many challenges and obstacles that your remote employees could face, such as feeling isolated and disconnected from their team, their work, or the business. 

Read more: How the Covid-19 outbreak ushered in a new way of working

We’ve gathered our top four tips for ensuring employees who aren’t in the office regularly remain engaged and fulfilled.

1. Set aside time for bonding
When you work remotely, you don’t have as many opportunities for casual chit-chat with your colleagues as you would in an office environment. To help employees continue to connect and bond with each other while working remotely, it’s important to set some time aside for non-work-related conversation. For example, scheduling in a regular virtual morning coffee or lunch session with your team is a great way to create time for informal conversations.

It can also be a good idea to have a group chat with your team where they can stay in touch with each other throughout the workday. Keep this chat casual by allowing both work and non-work topics to be discussed, and don’t be afraid to use appropriate emojis and GIFs to keep the conversation fun and lively. In fact, studies show that the use of emojis can produce a similar neurological response as face-to-face conversations, so incorporating some in your chat can be a great way to bond with your team.

2. Don’t go overboard with meetings
As soon as you hear that working remotely can cause people to feel isolated and disconnected, it can be tempting to schedule lots of check-in meetings with employees to try to ensure their well-being and engagement. While it is important to have regular meetings, it’s also crucial that you don’t go overboard, as this can be counterproductive and perceived as micromanaging.

To figure out how many meetings would be appropriate, ask each person on your team what their preference is. While some people need a weekly or fortnightly check-in, others may only require this once a month.

Read more: Why remote work doesn’t work for everyone

3. Brainstorm together as a team
When working remotely, it can be difficult to have those spontaneous brainstorming sessions that often organically take place in an office setting, so scheduling some in advance can be a great way to keep people connected. It also helps employees to feel included and involved in big projects and discussions, keeping them more engaged in their work. At the bare minimum, schedule in a quarterly brainstorming session with your team to come up with new ideas and initiatives for the following quarter.

4. Recognise employees for their hard work
Just because you can’t thank your employees by treating them to lunch or a coffee like you might when working in an office, that doesn’t mean you can’t recognise and reward them for their hard work. Take the time in your team meetings to acknowledge someone for their exceptional work on a project or send out an email to your team thanking certain individuals for their recent contributions.

If an individual doesn’t like public praise, you can send them a private message expressing your gratitude for their work. Whatever way you choose to recognise your remote employees, it will go a long way to helping them feel more included and engaged in their work.

During this global pandemic, working remotely has proven to be a successful arrangement for many organisations. But now that it is such a big part of our everyday lives, it can be easy to fall into the trap of ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’ and forget that your remote workforce requires the same level of support (if not more) than it did earlier in 2020.

To ensure your employees are continuing to be engaged and motivated in their roles, it’s important to take steps to help them feel included and involved. After all, it is clear remote working is set to become the way of the future for many organisations.

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