Remote Employees: Company Communication Best Practices
Even as some companies prepare for a return to the office, remote work is here to stay. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have completely embraced remote working, and many companies still support a hybrid or remote workforce. Read this guide to learn everything you need to know about supporting remote employees.
What Are Remote Employees?
Remote employees, also known as remote workers or telecommuters, are individuals who perform their job duties and tasks outside of a traditional office setting. Instead of working at a physical company location, remote employees have the flexibility to work from home, a co-working space, a coffee shop, or any other location of their choosing.
Because remote workers can’t interact with their colleagues face-to-face, they have to use digital tools to communicate and collaborate.
The rise of remote work really took off during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when companies had to shut down their offices to keep their employees safe. While some companies are demanding a return to office—or gently suggesting it—remote work isn’t going anywhere.
Remote work offers employees the freedom to manage their own schedules, avoid commuting, and enjoy a more flexible work-life balance. It also allows companies to tap into a broader talent pool, reduce office space and overhead costs, and promote employee satisfaction and retention.
What Are Examples of Remote Employees?
Remote employees span a wide variety of industries and roles.
We believe that most office-based jobs where employees primarily use a computer to complete their work could work remotely. Whether or not that’s their preference is a different story. However, 80% of the workforce is deskless, or frontline, which means they work in very specific locations like hospitals, manufacturing plants, restaurants, hotels, distribution centers, etc. These employees cannot work remotely because they require special equipment for their jobs or are in a service-related role.
But that means that roles in fields like marketing, design, customer service, human resources can all work remotely.
Because some roles require some need for on-site visits or in-person collaboration, many companies support hybrid working instead of letting employees be fully remote.
Benefits of Embracing Remote Work
Remote work offers several benefits for both employees and employers. Here are some key advantages of remote work:
- Increased flexibility. Remote work allows employees to have more control over their schedules and work location. They can often set their own hours, enabling them to better balance work and personal responsibilities. This flexibility can lead to improved work-life balance and reduced stress levels.
- Expanded talent pool. Remote work opens up opportunities for employers to hire talent from anywhere in the world. Without the limitation of geographic proximity, companies can access a larger and more diverse pool of candidates, increasing the chances of finding the best-fit employees for their roles.
- Increased productivity. Remote employees often experience higher productivity levels. Working in a comfortable environment without office distractions, commuting time, and interruptions from colleagues can lead to increased focus and efficiency. While this isn’t always the case, studies have shown that remote workers tend to accomplish more tasks in less time.
- Cost savings. Remote work can result in significant cost savings for both employees and employers. Employees can save money on commuting expenses, meals, and professional attire. Employers can reduce overhead costs associated with maintaining office spaces, utilities, and supplies.
- Improved employee satisfaction and retention. Offering remote work options can enhance employee satisfaction and engagement. Remote employees appreciate the flexibility and autonomy, leading to higher job satisfaction and lower turnover rates. By prioritizing work-life balance, companies can build a positive employer brand and attract and retain top talent.
- Environmental impact. Remote work has a positive environmental impact by reducing commuting and traffic congestion. Fewer cars on the road contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions and a smaller carbon footprint.
It’s important to note that while remote work offers numerous benefits, it also comes with its own challenges. We’ll talk through those next.
Top Challenges of Engaging, Managing, and Communicating With Remote Employees
While remote work offers many advantages, it also presents specific challenges when it comes to engaging, managing, and communicating with remote employees. Here are some of the top cons of remote work:
- Collaboration. Without face-to-face communication, remote employees may experience more misunderstandings or delays in information sharing. Lack of visual cues and nonverbal communication can also make it harder to build rapport and establish effective teamwork.
- Time zone differences. Although it may seem trivial, collaborating across time zones can make scheduling meetings and coordinating work difficult.
- Manager effectiveness. Managers may find it challenging to monitor the work progress and performance of remote employees effectively. It requires establishing clear expectations, setting measurable goals, and implementing transparent systems to track and evaluate remote workers’ productivity. And it’s important for managers to build trust and rapport and not try to micro-manage to maintain a sense of “control.”
- Social Isolation. Remote employees may experience feelings of social isolation and disconnection from their team and the organization. Without the informal interactions and socialization that occur in traditional office environments, it’s important to find ways to foster employee engagement, promote social connections, and maintain a sense of workplace belonging.
- Work-life balance. Some remote employees find they have better work-life balance but some struggle to separate work and life. This can lead to them working longer hours than usual and experiencing burnout and reduced well-being.
- Professional development and career growth. Remote employees may face challenges in accessing professional development opportunities and advancing their careers. It requires proactive efforts from both employees and employers to provide remote workers with learning opportunities, mentorship, and career progression pathways. Remember to check your biases as an organization and provide equal opportunity to remote vs. office staff.
10 Tips for Managing Remote Employees Effectively
Every workforce is different. But these strategic tips should help you improve the management of your remote workforce.
- Establish communication channels. Provide remote employees with reliable tools and platforms. Ensure employees understand which channels to use for different types of communication.
- Set guidelines. Clearly communicate expectations regarding availability, response times, and deliverables. Establish guidelines for remote work policies, including communication protocols, meeting schedules, and project management practices.
- Encourage regular communication. Encourage frequent and consistent communication between remote workers. Make sure you share best practices with team leaders to facilitate this.
- Organize virtual team-building activities. The right kinds of team-building activities and social events help foster a sense of camaraderie and belonging among remote employees. Check out our long list of ideas in this blog.
- Provide professional development opportunities. Offer remote employees opportunities for skill development and career advancement. Provide access to virtual workshops or mentorship programs to support their professional growth.
- Support work-life balance. It’s not enough to tell your employees that you want them to have balance at work. You have to actively support initiatives that make it possible for employees to draw healthy boundaries and take care of themselves.
- Recognize remote employees. Don’t leave remote workers out of recognition programs. Celebrate their milestones, provide public recognition, and offer appropriate rewards to boost morale.
- Communicate on time. Ensure employees receive timely and relevant information about company updates and policy changes. Use a diverse channel mix to make sure you reach everyone.
- Facilitate virtual learning. Enable virtual learning (like microlearning) and encourage knowledge sharing and collaboration across your organization.
- Seek feedback and adapt. The most important tip is to regularly get feedback on their experience with remote work, communication, and their challenges. Use their input to continuously improve remote work practices and address their concerns.
Technology Solutions For Remote Workers
When selecting a tech stack to support remote employees, companies should consider several key factors:
- Ease of collaboration. Remote work heavily relies on effective collaboration among team members. Companies should choose tools that enable seamless collaboration, such as real-time messaging, video conferencing, document sharing, and task management. The tech stack should facilitate easy communication and foster teamwork regardless of physical location.
- Accessibility and user-friendliness. The tech stack should be accessible to all employees, regardless of their technical expertise. Look for user-friendly tools with intuitive interfaces that require minimal training to ensure widespread adoption. Accessibility also includes compatibility across different devices and operating systems, allowing employees to work from their preferred devices.
- Security and data privacy. With remote work, data security becomes even more crucial. Companies should prioritize tools that have robust security measures, including data encryption, secure authentication, and regular updates to protect sensitive information.
- Scalability and integration. As companies grow and evolve, their tech stack needs to be scalable. Choose solutions that can easily scale with you and will integrate with existing systems.
- Analytics and reporting capabilities. To effectively manage remote teams and assess productivity, companies should seek tools that have analytics and reporting features. These capabilities allow HR and management teams to track key metrics, measure performance, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions.
By considering these five factors, you can build a tech stack that supports remote workers effectively.
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