Remote working is in for a long haul!
The developments in the ever-changing business world tell us that organizations are progressively shifting towards permanent remote teams.
Globally, remote work has moved to the next phase after successful and massive experimentation of its pragmatic application. Even though businesses were forced to mandate WFH (work from home) on account of the novel coronavirus, employees stayed resilient in the face of crisis and did not let that affect their work and productivity. On the contrary, a significant percentage of remote workers experienced enhanced productivity because of flexible schedules, no commute, and fewer meetings prompting business leaders to recognize the advantages of remote work. Additionally, leaders are also looking for remote work as a valid alternative to maintaining expensive workplaces.
Yes, remote working is a reality in the new world, at least in the foreseeable future but the question is are organizations ready with a strategy to engage workers? Engagement is not straightforward devoid of face to face meetings in person, chit-chat over coffee, comforting handshake, and so on.
Employees working remotely amidst the pandemic have experienced increased levels of anxiety and insecurities. This has prompted employers to address and resolve these issues directly with their employees leading to a surge in engagement levels globally.
Engagement strategies require out of box thinking, delving deep into the needs and aspirations of employees and particularly watching over the most vulnerable employees.
Listed here are some of the best practices on employee engagement that ensures happy, safe, productive, and retainable employees.
With the pandemic jolting the economy to a grinding halt, certain industries faced a complete shutdown and many employees became idle. In such a case, naturally these employees feared layoffs and pay-cuts. All those organizations that assured employees of basic pay were able to win the hearts of their workers forever.
Contrastingly, a different kind of fear spread over employees who belonged to essential industries that entailed employees to report to work even in the lockdown. The steps and measures are taken by the senior management to keep workers and their families safe has reset the engagement bar in many organizations.
At the other end, a score of WFH employees feared productivity and deliveries plunging. Therefore, they not only stretched themselves to work beyond work hours but also faced difficulty in balancing personal and workspace. Even though there has been no precedence in the past but senior leadership promptly anticipated these concerns are directly reached out to employees reassuring and supporting them all along.
Going ahead, leveraging technology to engage employees will be the biggest differentiator between a successful and not so successful people practice. AI-backed people analytics augment CHROs reach and decision-making potential. With remote working on an upswing, reaching out to employees regularly is essential as many of them feel cut-off and miss being around teams and managers. Besides, with new business models evolving, employees’ priorities and inherent drives are also shifting. This necessitates employers to modify existing practices and policies aligning them with the wants of the majority.
Incidentally, the age-old method of annual feedback has lost its relevance as more and more success-oriented organizations are opting for pulse-based real time employee reach-out to analyze employees’ thoughts and feelings towards them. A bounty of statistics proves that pulse-based digital employee engagement has helped organizations to reduce attrition, improve productivity and accelerate growth.
Physical and mental well being
Change is never easy, especially for the ones who have been displaced from the workplace after decades and that too unprepared to handle remote working. Many of them felt helpless just like domestic animals would feel if they are dropped in the jungle to fend for themselves. What more, some of them are not returning to the workplace for an extended period.
Naturally, thousands of these employees have gone through psychological upheaval on account of the new physical environment of work, transformed family duties, pandemic risk and lack of social interactions. In light of this new development Senior leaders and CHROs have amended benefits under employee health and well being which also includes providing the necessary infrastructure to enable employees to WFH comfortably. For instance, companies have provided personal computers, tables, chairs, internet connectivity and many more items to employees for the ease of working remotely. In addition, many organizations have tied-up with health organizations to facilitate the availability of rapid help in case of emergencies.
With remote teams, communication is more challenging and things can get lost in translation. Managers have to take the lead in being hyper communicative with their teams and the key is to be crystal clear about their duties and responsibilities.
Organizations must enhance the overall communication strategy, fill the blanks and rewire the dots to make sure all employees stay connected with the manager and senior manager otherwise remote workers will become disengaged and unproductive. This is principally true for remote workers who do not have the opportunity to communicate with their co-workers in person on a daily basis.
Frequent virtual meetings at the team level and also at company level (Townhall) are crucial to help everyone stay on the same page and be reminded of core company values and goals. Remote working does not mean that teams meet only to discuss business, there should be enough and more room to have a light moment virtually.
Empower remote workers
Engaging remote workers aim to augment their energies and motivation so that they readily brainstorm new ideas, share their thoughts openly and continue to upskill. Remote working if not handled with utmost care can harm the culture of knowledge sharing and social interaction amongst employees. However, using the right technology, developing a cohesive team culture and fostering the ethos that everyone learns together will enable a collaborative and innovative organizational culture. Remote workers should be a part of the decision-making process in firms that they work for, thus they should be heard at all times.
Senior leaders should put more force into prioritizing on employee relations and engagement efforts for the success of remote teams. Although we were forced into this new realm, we have come a long way and landed safely into the future of work. The workplace trends point that remote work we are experiencing now is not a temporary measure.