Research has shown that many workers want and expect remote work to continue after this pandemic is over.
For manufacturing, retail, healthcare and some other areas, a presence in the workplace is the only option for employees.
But where an employee’s presence is not required to do a job, hybrid is the new normal. To do it right, employers will need to focus on flexibility and choice.
Here are some key areas HR and their organization’s leadership teams should keep top of mind as the trend to hybrid develops.
How are employers even to gauge employee morale when no one is at work? Most experts agree you will need to ask them.
Some questions might include:
- What do you need to achieve your full potential?
- How can we help to provide that?
- What are your favorite parts of remote wok?
- What team activities would you suggest to help make remote work fun?
Recognition is a well-established technique to boost morale. So, what are the best ways to recognize people who work remotely? It’s not as easy to highlight achievements and quality efforts when everyone only meets virtually. But it’s not impossible.
If you use chat and messaging software such as Slack to communicate, it’s easy to set up a channel specifically for achievements. This is an area where you can quickly recognize any achievements by the company as well as the specific employees who helped.
Employers are wise to be extra-concerned about employee health – physical and mental – and offer opportunities to help employees stay healthy.
But in any kind of remote work setting, it’s a bigger challenge because you don’t physically see your employees on a daily basis.
Change is difficult. Fewer in-person interactions, and changes to diet and routine, can have negative effects.
Consider health and wellness efforts to counter this. For example, stipends for gym memberships and healthy food delivery subscriptions can help employees ground themselves physically, which can improve their mental health.
For many companies and their employees, adjusting to remote work has come with its share of obstacles and hurdles. But focusing on how you can help your remote employees with specific employer-sponsored benefits can help narrow the gap between a remote worker feeling isolated from the company they work for, and knowing they’re a valuable part of a supportive and caring business.
There are no limits to changes companies can make to put people first and help them adapt to their new workstyles.
For instance, some companies have gone to a “no meeting” policy, which allows people even greater flexibility in their remote-work lives.
While meetings can be productive, too many companies have piled on meeting after meeting since shifting to remote work. The notion is lots of meetings force employees to stay connected.
But in truth, meetings can be counter-productive and exhausting.
A better idea is make sure your teams are set up for success from Day One, and can work both autonomously and collaboratively.
People need to be able to move at their own pace, work with others on a schedule that is convenient rather than forced, and be freed to be as productive and efficient as possible.
The bottom line is that many meetings hold up timelines and provide little to no added benefit.
Remote employee development
One of the top things the next generation of workers is looking for from their employers is development opportunities that help them live their lives outside of work better.
Research has shown shown that younger workers most desire and value training on:
- making sure their finances are in order
- managing marriage and relationships, and
- making sure their ongoing health and fitness goals are up to date.
This type of “whole person” development is the kind of benefit that forges a deeper connection between your people and your organization’s mission and purpose.
So then, as the remote work phase grows, here are five areas to always strive for continuous improvement.
Nearly a third of employee say they communicate less with their managers since moving to remote work. And 20% say the relationship with their manager has worsened, according to Paychex survey.
Better than half of all managers say their relationships with employees have suffered since the lockdown.
Technology and comfort are still a struggle for many employees working from home. Many haven’t found their best work spots at home. One in five millennials work from their beds!
Others use tech workarounds until things can get “fixed” again.
Most remote workers share their internet connections and capacity with others in their home. All this hampers productivity and increases frustration, which can have a diminishing effect on morale.
One thing that’s difficult for employees working remotely is understanding, managing and executing expectations.
HR should help managers strive for a two-sided solution because goals, priorities and expectations change so often these days.
Be socially proactive
Though most employees want to continue with remote work, many also miss the social life at the office.
Remote work can be very isolating. Gone are the chats around the water cooler, lunchtime walks and the quick one-on-one with a passing co-worker in the hallway.
Frontline managers should make a point to reach out to employees with the goal of identifying any who feel isolated. Then create opportunities for them to get involved in organizing social activities which might include a day or half day back in the office. The key is to help employees find something social that works best for them.
Who wants a plaque that reads: “Most Tireless Remote Worker – Ever”?
With home life and work life blending, it’s important for employees to know how to step away.
Front-line managers and HR leaders can set the self-care example for employees when they all work from home. Everyone feels lonely sometimes. When loneliness happens often or becomes chronic, as it did during the lockdowns, it can have a negative impact on our physical, cognitive, and emotional health.