Workers are paying close attention to how their employer is handling the current COVID-19 health crisis. According to Glassdoor Employee Satisfaction Reviews, the majority of employees are dissatisfied, particularly with the lack of work-from-home options. 

It may be difficult for your company to make an abrupt shift to remote work, but as you adapt and embrace work-from-home alternatives you will re-gain employee confidence, increase productivity, and boost employee satisfaction and loyalty.

Today, forty percent more U.S. employers offer more flexible workplace options than five years ago.  The latest work-at-home/telecommuting work statistics indicate this trend will continue making the current health crisis an opportunity to test drive your company’s bandwidth for remote workers. 

Managing a remote workforce has its challenges and its rewards. Take the following steps to ease the transition and keep your employees fully engaged.  

Use the Right Communication Tools

Don’t rely on email alone. You can better engage remote workers by having a portfolio of communication tools.  Remote work becomes more efficient and satisfying when managers set expectations for the frequency, means, and ideal timing of communication for their teams.

Use video conferencing to give participants the visual cues that they would have if they were face-to-face. Video meetings using Google Hangouts or Skype feel more personal than written or audio-only communication.

Set-up instant messaging technologies like Slack and Zoom, both can be used for time-sensitive communication and less formal conversations.   

Utilize file-sharing software platforms like Dropbox, Google Docs, or Microsoft Teams that allow workers to write, edit, and collaborate wherever they are. 

Establish Structure

When navigating an abrupt shift to remote work, it’s important for you to acknowledge your employees’ stress, and empathize with their struggles. A combination of structured communications and virtual events can help reduce their feelings of isolation. 

Establish a daily call with your remote employees.  This could be a series of one-on-one calls or a team call. Scheduling these calls in advance assures employees they will be able to consult with you and discuss any concerns or questions.  Use the first few minutes to simply “catch up” with each other about non-work happenings like weekend plans or recent vacations. 

Promote a Sense of Belonging

Create virtual office parties (send along “care packages” in advance to be opened by all during the video conference) or arrange virtual birthday celebrations (send a cake with candles in advance to the birthday boy/girl and join in for a round of “Happy Birthday”) to promote a sense of belonging. 

Provide Encouragement and Support

Be sure to check-in with newly remote employees.  Some may be struggling but wary about letting you know.  Simply ask them “How is this remote work situation working out for you so far?” Listen carefully to the response, and let your employees know you understand their stress or concerns and that you will work together to meet the challenges. Simply recognizing their issues provides employees with a greater sense of well-being and builds confidence that, with time, they can master the world of remote work. 

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