It looks like remote work is here to stay, in some form or another. The most recent figures from Global Workplace Analytics show that remote employment has grown by 140% since 2005, which means 4.3 million employees are working from home, at least half of the time.
Despite the fact that working remotely has been on the uptick for the last 15 years, “the pandemic has just exacerbated the openness that both job seekers and employers have towards this way of working.”
It really is a win-win situation for all concerned: cost savings of remote work benefit the employer while offering flexibility for the employee. However, the remote work experience is not without its challenges, but there are actions that an employer can take to ensure their employees’ happiness and help create a positive work experience outside of the confines of the 4 office walls.
Establishing a strong sense of community is always important, regardless of the constraints that COVID has brought about. While a strong sense of corporate culture may seem ideal, it actually tends to put rules before people, and is often the quickest way to make people feel isolated. It is more important, in a remote work environment especially, to foster a deep sense of community guided by values rather than rules, that have the flexibility to reflect the personalities and interests of their members in ways cultures cannot.
While this can be challenging at times, let alone when your staff members are spread out over different time zones, daily check-ins can help bridge the gap, while employing varied forms of media to enrich the experience. This is clearly relevant to discuss work matters and establish clear goal-oriented expectations, but it can also create opportunities for social interaction. Managers of remote workers have found that something as simple as a virtual pizza party can help reduce feelings of isolation and promote a sense of belonging.
For more on the varied forms of smart technology available to you and your staff to ensure communication lines remain open, read here.
It is important to provide an on-going, meaningful feedback system to overcome obstacles that work from home can breed. While there are many communication tools available to create dialogue and exchange ideas, a basic employee survey (Officevibe, SurveyMonkey, Energage) can get to the heart of the matter and help evaluate their main challenges, areas for improvement, and acknowledge achievements. This can be done anonymously or not, but it is a great way to get employees to reflect on their own challenges. Getting their direct input in these areas, and then implementing their suggestions, will help and encourage employee ownership and foster open pathways of discussion.
It need not be the proverbial elephant in the living room, but while remote work offers many freedoms that the confines of the structured work space does not, for some, there are unexpected costs incurred associated with working from home. While “office perks” rank lower than some of the benefits of remote work--better working hours and more meaningful work—to name two, there are perks that the employer can offer to help offset the costs for the newly established remote worker.
This could take many forms, but some companies offer compensation for extra internet costs, while others supplement their employees rent or help establish an at-home office. Extra costs aside, it is important for remote workers to know that a portion of their expenses can be claimed when filing their 2020 income tax.
And finally, perhaps there is a 4th C? The 3 C’s are really just a way for employers to show they Care about the wellness of their remote working teams and thus, is hardly an exhaustive list. Bridging the physical gap created by remote work is a challenge, but essential. There are several means available to foster a caring work community, tackle isolation, and encourage open dialogue to keep your work environment and employees safe and happily engaged.