Just over a year ago, many businesses shifted to a remote, work-at-home workplace overnight. A few months after the start of the pandemic, many organizations declared that their remote workplace was successful, and productivity was the same or better. Now, as the shine of work-at-home has fully worn off, some CEOs say virtual meetings are draining, exhausting, and less productive. Some employees are saying they are missing face-to-face interactions, among other challenges of having a remote workforce.
To quote Warren Buffett, “When change happens in the world, you adjust to it.” Acknowledging that remote work to varying degrees is here to stay, we have a great opportunity to relook at how to make work a great experience for our organizations and employees. Top organizations will be working proactively to continue to enhance the remote work experience.
Let’s consider some different components of work-at-home that can be especially impactful for organizations. Start with designating a person or team to take specific responsibility for the remote work experience. Maintaining focus on the experience as it continues to evolve will assist in keeping productivity and employee engagement high.
“It’s lonely at the top” used to be the saying for senior leadership, but you may find employees are now feeling lonely working remotely. Being deliberate in creating an inclusive culture for everyone is important. This can be done through impromptu check-ins. Call your employees and see how they are doing. Be personable in your conversations to build a respectful, inclusive relationship. This can be cultivated by sharing about yourself to put people at ease. Find ways to draw input casually and tactfully from all employees during virtual team meetings.
Recognition rituals are important considerations as you work to create a great remote workplace. Where there used to be celebrations around doughnuts in the breakroom or pizza lunches, find ways to recognize employees in a new way. This could be writing a handwritten notecard and mail it the traditional way. During team meetings, set an expectation to start each meeting with each person recognizing someone on the team. Have lunch delivered to your employee(s) at home as a way to show your appreciation for their outstanding results. Do not forget to recognize special days such as birthdays and anniversaries too. To make sure you do not lose sight of recognition opportunities, schedule time for yourself to consider who and what do you want to recognize at the end of each week to keep it timely.
Finally, find ways to ensure technology works most effectively and efficiently for your employees. This could be anything from ensuring shared documents and materials are easily accessible to identifying platforms that encourage collaboration and/or recognition opportunities.
Recognize that remote work has its challenges; the pandemic of 2020 has changed the way we do business forever. It requires us to adjust and change. Even as things “open up,” organizations are likely to maintain some level of work-at-home for employees. Employers Council can help; give us a call.