Many employers were forced to send their workers home when COVID-19 hit. Overnight, companies had to learn how to enable successful remote work. Now, as the pandemic is dying down and life returns to a new sense of normal, telecommuting appears to be here to stay. An estimated 36.2 million Americans will work remotely by 2025.
Here are five ways to support remote employees.
Many employees are facing new and unfamiliar technology they must get accustomed to as they settle into telecommuting. Many may know how to use videoconferencing programs like Zoom and Google Meet, but they also need to master them. Additionally, they will need to learn to set up call forwarding, access voicemail at home and remotely enter the company network. Proper training will keep people from fumbling around and getting flustered by the technology.
Employees who navigate this new technology must feel comfortable and confident in using it. Supporting them early on will achieve these goals while also making them feel more comfortable working remotely as a whole.
Ensuring employees have a proper work-from-home setup is vital to maximize their effectiveness. This way, they can work at a desk with the right equipment instead of using their laptop on their couch.
There are two primary ways you can ensure your employees are well equipped. Send them all the required equipment, such as a desk, chair and computer. You could also give each worker a budget for office equipment. For example, maybe they already have a desk and chair, and they would rather buy items like a mobile hotspot or blue light glasses.
The downside to working from home is that employees will be much more prone to encounter distractions. About 98% of the workforce reports being interrupted three to four times per day. Helping your workers eliminate these distractions is key.
Consider sending each of your employees a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Additionally, you can provide training on eliminating distractions for your telecommuters. This lets you set the tone on what it looks like to work from home while also teaching workers how to set boundaries with their families.
Building some cushion and flexibility into schedules can also help. For example, giving your employees the flexibility to step away from their desks for 10 minutes to handle distractions can be incredibly helpful. Just make it clear that time must be made up throughout the day.
Employees who feel they are not properly recognized are twice as likely to quit within a year. Be sure to recognize and reward your workers, regardless of if they are in-office or at home. You always want to ensure equality in that process. Making sure your telecommuters are recognized the same way takes greater intentionality.
If you are giving rewards or gifts to all in-office employees, be sure to either mail those same rewards to at-home workers or provide them with some kind of digitized reward of equal value, such as a gift card.
Make these recognitions public and do it equally for all employees. For example, you can send out an email acknowledging people who went above and beyond at the end of each month.
Ensure employees who work remotely still feel connected to you and their co-workers. About 52% of employees feel less linked to the office after shifting to remote work. This lack of connection can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Be intentional in including remote employees and build a relationship with them. Check in with them regularly, ask how they are feeling and find ways to show you care.
You can do three main things to foster relationships between remote at-home and in-office employees:
Remote work appears to be here to stay, and ensuring your employees feel successful and supported is critical. These tips are just the tip of the iceberg, but they provide a great foundation for helping your at-home workforce.