A few months into the COVID-19 pandemic and companies are in all different stages of 'getting back to work'. Organizations are thinking very carefully about how to keep employees safe and prevent a second spike in the pandemic. For many, that means no return to the office at all! Leading tech companies like Twitter have announced they're keeping their offices closed for the foreseeable future, and employees can work from home "forever" if they want to. Others are planning a slow, phased approach, with employees returning a little at a time, or with certain restrictions like closed community spaces.
But as leaders debate the options on the table, they must not forget arguably the most important consideration - keeping employees comfortable during this uncertain time. After all, a happy and content employee means a better output of work, higher retention, and overall better business outcomes. In March, we partnered with OnePoll to survey over 2,200 global workers to examine how they feel about the role of remote work and the perceived positives and negatives. We shared the myriad of benefits of remote work - but there were significant worries too. Click below to see what our survey revealed as the top concerns with remote work:
Remote work brings challenges in communication and personal habits, but it's not anything your teams can't overcome! With the right tools, trainings and management policies, leaders can tackle these challenges head-on and empower their remote workforce to feel confident about working remotely. Here are a few simple tips to combat the top 3 concerns we uncovered:
- Household Distractions - if the laundry is piling up or the kids are hungry for lunch, it can be hard not to step away from work to address these things. But that's not necessarily a bad thing! Encourage employees to view this new environment as flexible; bringing an end to the traditional 9-5. If a break in the middle of the day for some chores, family time or even simply a mental break is what makes someone more productive when they come back to their desk afterwards, they should embrace it. Multinational companies already operate this way with people in different time zones. Managers should focus on overall productivity, rather than exactly when or how the work gets done.
- Poor Team Communication - Communication problems can have long lasting impacts on everything from team camaraderie to individual productivity, and it's a cross-functional responsibility to fix. IT leaders need to empower teams with multi-channel tools to communicate all the ways way they want to - from messaging to telephony to video conferencing. Cideo is especially important to include as remote workers who connect face-to-face virtually will establish more meaningful connections with the people they work with, as well as customers or clients. Creating a video conference culture starts from the top - leadership and HR partnering together to encourage all managers and groups to quit being camera shy, and use video in meetings.
- Lack of Human Connection - this goes hand-in-hand with team communication. When you're accustomed to working right next to your colleagues, it can be extremely lonely to all of a sudden be working from home. This is where managers need to lean in and get creative. Informal meetings such as regular coffee-talks, cocktail hours, or trivia nights (over video conferencing) can help teams bond and feel close in the way they used to at the office. Encourage teams to get together on their own as well, setting aside regular "coffee chat" or "water cooler" time on their calendars with their friends at work. Creating a culture of camaraderie over video conferencing will help battle isolation.