Employee engagement is now more important than ever, it is even possible that remote working for some will become the new norm – not because of any social distancing requirement, but because employers are having to look at ways to reduce office costs following the coronavirus outbreak.
There are many benefits to allowing employees to work remotely such as reduced overhead costs, especially as businesses are be able to downsize their office space. Plus, there are a number of benefits for employees such as not having to commute and being able to work more flexibly.
It is however worth remembering that although modern technology allows people to stay connected, even when not in the same space physically, it is still very common that as employees transition to remote working they will feel isolated and not a part of the same team as their colleagues.
During the coronavirus many companies are using technology to talk to employees more than ever before. The lessons learnt during these unprecedented times needs to be adhered to when things return to normal. Collaboration and idea sharing with those operating remotely needs to become the ‘new norm’ to benefit from the payoffs this level of engagement can bring. The team spirit engendered now should be maintained if companies want to see real growth and happier employees.
From discussions in the break room to friendly chats in the hallway, many great business ideas have started from two employees simply exchanging small talk. For this reason, employees who work remotely may feel their social life is seriously harmed by remote work and feel their work may decrease in quality due to a lack of social stimulation.
Again, lessons from the current situation could prove a valuable insight to engaging remote workers in the future. Certain times of the week are being allocated for social chats, a chance for employees to chat together over a cup of tea, or glass of wine – yet remotely. (These none work related chats for now can also include furloughed employees, so they feel less isolated.)
Host regular work events
If more staff in the future do end up working from home it will be important to plan regular work events, such as a quarterly training day or a monthly work drink and ensure all remote employees are invited. This will ensure remote employees still feel part of the team and retain the social element of work.
Consider Mental Health
The current situation requires additional care when it comes to thinking about employee engagement, but there is also a real need to consider their mental health. The Mental Health Organisation gives some clear guidance on looking after your employees.
We also found another great article from the Safety & Health Practitioner – a guide to home working and self-isolation. The article is full of great advice and resources.