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The importance of open channels of communication cannot be overstated within a remote company. Clearly communicating expectations is crucial to the success of any company overseeing teams of telecommuters, but managers must remember that a dialogue should always go both ways. And though the responsibilities that each employee has to the company may be crystal clear, when pivoting to a full-remote model, it’s important to remember that the company should also assume a certain amount of responsibility for their team’s wellbeing.
When workers convene in one physical office space, it’s easy to exercise control over the environment. You can select premium furniture for workspaces, deck out conference rooms with high-tech equipment, ensure the cafeteria is always well-stocked, and keep the lighting optimal for productivity, knowing you’re providing a great work experience for each member of your company. But as companies across the world are embracing the future of work by settling into a permanent work-from-home model, it’s time to begin asking questions in order to better engage remote employees.
A meaningful set of questions from a manager can boost remote employee morale. It demonstrates that their leaders see and appreciate them as team members; that they aren’t only interested in being handed the final product of their work, but also in supporting them through the process of getting it done.
At GroWrk, we spend a lot of time thinking about which factors can come together to make a remote work experience not only as good as its in-office counterpart, but significantly better. Below is a list of questions all remote companies should be asking their employees to navigate our shifting paradigm of work.
This simple question can help you understand the individual motivations of your remote workers, and give you a peek into their personalities, values, and aspirations. For example, while some members of your team may crave socializing in an office, others may find they do not miss the distractions at all. Maybe some workers find it difficult to self-motivate without the structure of a traditional office space, but others thrive when handed more autonomy and flexibility. It’s important to know where each member of your team stands, what motivates them, and how you can help them stay on track.
A productive work zone doesn’t look the same for everyone, and one of the many benefits that a remote work model offers is the possibility to cater to individuals. “There’s a certain type of creative work that I do better at night, and when I worked at an office, some days I’d essentially slack off during office hours and later toil away at it once I got home,” says Natalia Gómez, a copywriter for an ad agency based in Monterrey, Mexico. “Since working from home due to the pandemic, I’ve been enjoying the freedom to take care of emails, client calls, and personal matters during the day, knowing my most productive hours will start once the sun sets.”
Understanding your remote employees' working habits and what environment each of them thrive in can help you pinpoint areas in which you’re able to support them. Knowing that your employees are working from a safe space that is conducive to their motivation and wellbeing will not only result in higher productivity and quality in the work that’s being done, but also in higher rates of happiness and employee retention.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies across the world to commit to telecommuting, many found that it was actually a great fit for them and decided to adopt it as their permanent work model. It makes sense that, during crisis-mode, we were all working however we could, spreading out on our dining room tables or finally making use of the desk we had set up in a corner. But moving forward, it is extremely important to consider that a permanent work-from-home situation requires more than a makeshift solution.
Ergonomic chairs and sit-stand desks are the obvious staples of a safety and health compliant workstation. It’s smart to go the extra mile and assess what sort of tools and gadgets could make work easier for each department of your company, and each member of your team.
Going from being able to stroll over to a coworker’s desk and ask for help or advice to having to message them on Slack or schedule a Zoom meeting can be a jarring transition for many workers once they begin telecommuting. When the casual vibe of a quick, face-to-face conversation turns into text bubbles on a monitor or calendar e-invites, it’s easy to feel anxious about overwhelming the members of our team. For this reason, it is crucial to establish boundaries (perhaps a unified way of signaling unavailability that leaves no room for guessing games), to actively promote the existing channels of communication, and to devise individual agreements between those coworkers who depend on each other most.
Participating in meetings through a computer screen can be a difficult adjustment for some, though the reasons may vary. Something as simple as a lack of high-speed internet, for example, can cause someone to miss only small parts of a meeting, not enough to interrupt and ask for clarification. This situation, which can leave the person feeling frustrated and out of the loop, is entirely avoidable if you ask them about their experience so far and work to address it. But there are other aspects to consider when carrying out an ideal virtual meeting, including allotting time for every participant to ask questions or offer feedback. Perhaps you feel this is happening organically, but it’s still best to over-communicate, and know for certain that no one is feeling left behind.
For many people who are extremely committed to their jobs, the idea of work-life balance is elusive. This can easily lead to feelings of burnout, unmanageable stress, and even health problems in the long run. And though merging your workspace with your home may seem to further blur the lines between your professional and personal life, remote work can actually promote a healthy balance between the two by freeing up time that would have been spent commuting. When you ask workers what a work-life balance looks like to them, you gain a better understanding of what drives them and how you can empower them to actively pursue hobbies and activities that will ward off stress and burnout.
Check out how GroWrk can help you easily equip your remote team with premium workstations, and keep track of their health and wellness, through our easy-to-use remote office management dashboard.