With the global COVID-19 outbreak, many companies have adopted a remote work policy to keep employees safe and prevent further spread of the virus.
Even before this period, remote work was already becoming the new normal: Surveys estimate that between 40 percent to 70 percent of workers in the U.S. telecommute at least once a week, and nearly half of US job seekers say the ability to work remotely is a significant factor in choosing a job.
Working remotely has well-being benefits for workers - including less stress and increased morale - according to 85percent of businesses. But alongside the positives, there are challenges. Remote workers can feel disconnected, isolated, and even lose motivation.
As a tech company, Indeed is fortunate in that we were able to almost seamlessly shift to an entirely remote environment. Yet, with multiple functions previously entirely in-person going virtual, the shift has renewed our focus on surmounting the challenges of remote work.
Here are three tips for keeping a remote team involved:
1. Get personal
Despite an abundance of technologies, communication and collaboration remain the biggest hurdles. The good news is remote employees can feel socially present in other ways.
Many managers are already scheduling video calls and weekly one-on-one online meetings to maximize face time with employees. But we’ve found it’s equally important to create time for informal conversation. Research shows that “structured unstructured time” helps team members understand one another better and improves performance. Try incorporating virtual “tours” of at-home workspaces or scheduling virtual staff lunches.
2. Manage meetings carefully
While technology permits remote employees to attend meetings from anywhere, drawbacks such as acoustics and delays are common. If you have an agenda to hit, share it and any materials ahead of time. In case of inconsistent technology, you may also want to record the call - particularly if the content is important for everyone to hear.
Set expectations to help virtual meetings run more smoothly. For example, ban multitasking, and, to ensure everyone has the chance to share, provide unstructured time for open conversation and structured time for attendees to add items. Don’t forget to solicit feedback.
3. Communicate clearly
Much is lost in translation with text-based conversations since these lack the subtle behavioral cues of in-person chats. Even when intentions are clear, people are less likely to respond to email requests than in-person requests.
That’s why it’s important to set expectations with your remote team. Outline tasks or requests clearly and give them a deadline. Designate a single channel to communicate all project changes and updates. Then make yourself available to field questions.
The best approach depends on individual teams and the organization - there is no one-size-fits-all. By adapting and adjusting communications, geographically dispersed teams can be more cohesive and successful. Remember to make time to socialize and keep everyone’s mutual mission top of mind. And stay safe and healthy out there.