The pandemic altered life temporarily around the globe for everyone, but some changes were permanent. While many businesses were forced to work remotely during state-wide lockdowns, remote or hybrid work models have actually become the norm for many businesses. Although the days of lockdown may be behind us, remote work is here to stay. According to expert predictions, 25% of all professional jobs in the U.S. will be remote by the end of 2022, with remote opportunities only expected to increase through 2023. A complete return to the old way of working is highly unlikely. If you’re planning what the future of work will look like at your company, we have some practices to consider to help foster a remote or hybrid culture that allows your employees and business to thrive.
Prioritize Health and Wellness
Make your employees’ health a top-priority. If your employees get sick, they can’t perform. Consider starting a wellness program to encourage employees to get activity and eat healthy, such as 30 days of yoga. In addition to focusing on their physical health, you’ll want to focus on their mental health as well. Although remote work has many perks, there are some downsides – some of them being feelings of loneliness and isolation. A possible option is a mentorship or coaching program with regular check-ins.
Supporting your workers’ health brings them closer together and shows them you care about their overall well-being. Allowing a longer midday break for workouts or even more consistent shorter breaks throughout the workday gives your employees the chance to get up and unwind. They’ll be better prepared to focus and handle the tasks at hand.
Host Virtual Meetings and Hangouts
Remote teams benefit from maintaining regular communication. Utilize video calls, instant messaging, email and web conferencing platforms to keep all employees connected. A video conferencing call can help encourage group collaboration. There are tons of collaboration tools and platforms to choose from, including Google Hangouts, Trello, and Slack.
In addition to conference calls, it’s also important to host virtual get-togethers for non-work-related chats. Employees typically bond in the workplace by discussing the day and tasks, but when you’re alone at home, you miss the connection with your co-workers. Give employees an opportunity to connect in a casual way. Schedule work outings or casual video calls to keep employees engaged and connected as a team.
A virtual on-boarding is a great opportunity for new employees to meet the rest of the team and get oriented with the structure of the company. The goal is to encourage co-worker bonds. You want them to build trusting relationships with each other.
Make Employees Feel Valued
All employees deserve to feel appreciated, even if it's from a distance. Find small ways to celebrate your employees, such as sending virtual birthday cards or sending messages to thank an employee who went above and beyond. Simple gestures will show your employees you care about them.
Keep your door open, virtually and in-the office. Let your employees know you’re always there to talk and answer questions or address any concerns they have. Be available for one-on-one meetings and phone calls. Communicating is essential, especially when you have employees working remotely.
Although you want to be professional, remember your employees are still human. As an employer, it’s important to recognize the employees strengths, weaknesses and interests. Establishing a connection with employees will help keep them engaged and committed to the company. Engagement isn’t just checking up. It requires fostering genuine personal connections with the people working for you.
Implement Games for Engagement
Some employers choose to implement gamification to encourage engagement and motivate employees. This is a great way to keep things fun, but also professional. Some options include:
- Interactive Leaderboards
- Scratch Off Bonuses
- Goal-Tracking Progress Bars.
In a survey, 97% of employees said gamification would improve their work and 87% reported gamification would make them more productive.
Allow Employees to Manage Their Own Flexibility
Giving your employees flexibility and some control with where, when and how they work is empowering. Maybe some employees start remotely and decide they’d rather be in the office. Maybe a hybrid worker decides it’s better to go back to the office full-time. Maybe it’s summer break and an employee needs to work from home for a couple of months. Of course, you’ll want to establish clear guidelines for accountability and to ensure consistency. Instead of treating flexibility like a resource only offered to some select employees, give everyone the opportunity to have some level of control in how their day looks. Create a clear, written policy that everyone understands. Use metrics to indicate the quality of work expected. It may seem like it’ll be tough to manage employees working from various locations, but giving employees control boosts their productivity and improves retention rates.