How to keep employees working from home long-term engaged
If you’re planning to keep your employees working remotely long-term, how do you keep them focused and engaged?
As many businesses consider a return to the office, others are likely to continue with remote working for some or part of the working week on a permanent basis.
While certain employees will welcome staying put, there are others that may now have been working from home for over 15 months since the pandemic started.
And because they aren’t in the office with their team, remote workers can often feel less engaged and distanced from their company which can make them unhappy and have a big impact on productivity and performance.
The impact on mental health can also be quite significant for people who aren’t interacting with colleagues or who see nothing but the same four walls every day.
So if you are considering keeping your workforce at home long-term for all or part of the working week, keeping them engaged remains a huge challenge.
What can you do to bridge the gap between home and the workplace?
Here are some ways to make your virtual staff feel like they are involved and are truly part of the team.
Host Virtual Hangouts
Meetings on Zoom and Teams are now common-place for many businesses to conduct work meetings, but have you thought about hosting regular social video calls?
Non work-related chats at different times of the week can help to connect staff, ease tension, boost team spirit and enable employees to take a break from their work.
Google hangouts, Slack and Trello are just some of the platforms you could use.
Encourage Health & Wellbeing
When you’re not with your immediate team every day or those employees that you may manage, it’s difficult to understand how they may be feeling or what they are going through.
Your worker’s health should be your priority – if your employees get sick they won’t be able to perform at their highest level or may end up needing time off over a longer period.
Try and be aware of any mental health struggles or stressful periods at home they may be going through.
You could start a wellbeing programme for your staff or host online wellbeing drop-in sessions giving employees the chance to open up about their mental health and wellbeing.
You could also encourage your team to take short exercise breaks during the day or create healthy habits.
Make Sure Employees Are Heard and Valued
Appreciating your workforce and colleagues, even from a distance, is important.
So although they might not be in the office with you every day you should find ways to show your appreciation for them, thank them when you can and celebrate achievements.
You could send them thank-you e-cards or agree to meet up for a celebration lunch when the time is right.
Make sure you remember birthdays, especially those colleagues you work closely with in your team. A birthday card or gift sent to their home address can make all the difference.
As an employer, make sure you’re available for one-to-one online meetings so your staff can still ask questions and discuss work matters with you even though you aren’t in the office with them.
Show Your Human Side
It’s important to be professional with your team or fellow workers but the last 15 months have been a struggle for everyone.
It’s important that you recognise that everyone is human and we all face significant challenges inside and outside the workplace.
Recognise strengths, weaknesses and interests wherever you can with your remote workers to connect with them better on a personal as well as professional level.
If staff know you care about them and their role, especially while they are working from home, they are likely to feel more engaged and committed to the company which will be beneficial in the future.
Communication Is Key
Remote working relies mainly on digital communication, particularly when staff work different shift patterns and may feel their team isn’t around when they are.
It’s important that colleagues know they can reach out to each other and even though they might not get an answer straight away, support and advice is available at the touch of a button.
It’s impossible to expect everyone to be available 24/7 but making sure that a manager or team member is contactable where possible will go a long way to creating trust and camaraderie in your business even though you’re physically apart.
With all of the above, it’s important to remember that every business and employee is different and although for many of us working from home is now more familiar than ever before, it’s still a learning curve at the same time.
Working from home permanently may not be the ideal scenario but staying connected to your colleagues in different ways and feeling involved as much as possible can make all the difference.