8 ways to design great workforce experiences for your remote employees

Grainne Shaughnessy
Published on 9th April 2020
4 min read

The way we work is constantly changing but over the past few weeks, it’s become almost unrecognizable.

For many of us the working day would usually start with the morning commute, perhaps grabbing a cup of coffee on the way. Then, when we get to the office, we say hello to our colleagues, get our laptops out and start working.

Yet, our working lives have been changed by COVID-19, with the many of us who can, are now working from home.

While remote working has its upsides, there are a few downfalls also. For many it’s the lack of social interaction, which could lead to a slump in productivity.

This is where workforce experiences come into play. While HR and People teams may naturally associate great workforce experiences as those initiatives that can be carried out in the office, you can equally create great experiences for your employees in the comfort of their own home.

While we can all but hope COVID-19 will be a distant memory in a few months and years, it doesn’t mean your new initiatives will go to waste. Your employees who work remotely can still enjoy the new experiences you put in place.

Here’s some ideas for HR and People teams looking to create work experiences that have no physical boundaries.

1. Keep your employees updated and informed

Have you upped your internal communications?

Employees that work remotely may feel disconnected and miss the information that they get from simply asking their teams, or the details that get dropped into conversation from a meeting. Make sure that your people are given the information that they need to feel fully part of the wider organization.

2. Ensure regular manager check-ins

Managers may think that employees need them less when they’re working remotely but that’s simply not the case.

An employee may have walked around to their manager’s desk to ask a quick question or pulled them into a meeting room for five minutes to discuss something – but now that’s not possible, so regular catch ups are important.

You may want to encourage managers to change their contact time so that it’s more regular, even if that means that time used for those catch ups are shorter.

3. Encourage flexible working

Flexible working is valuable for employees – that includes those who work remotely.

In our research, we found that 81% of employees valued flexible and remote working. However, for those already remote working, having flexibility is still key.

For example, remote employees may have their children at home. Having the flexibility to take a reasonable amount of time to look after them and give them the ability to make that time back when it’s convenient could mean that your employees are happier, less stressed and more productive.

However, employees may need flexible working for other reasons. By giving employees the freedom to work at the times that suit them will mean that they’ll always be working at their best.

4. Have social channels where employees can interact

As humans, we’re social beings and enjoy fellow human interaction.

One of the ways you can ensure your remote employees feel connected to their workplace is to establish and encourage interaction via a social platform, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams.

While it’s useful for work discussion and you could set up channels based on workstreams, you can use them in other ways.

Amongst your workforce you may have culinary enthusiasts, art and craft extraordinaires and exercise fans. Why not get creative? Encourage your employees to start channels that they’re interested in to share their hobbies with other like-minded colleagues, which leads on to our next point…

5. Encourage switching video on where appropriate

Employees don’t always like switching their videos on during calls but there are some real benefits to doing so – including a hike in productivity.

In fact, a staggering 87% of employees not physically present for a meetings report feeling better engaged with colleagues through video, whether that’s for a social catch up or a work-related call.

6. Create short courses on what to do to boost productivity from home

If calls, emails or a social channel doesn’t quite cut the mustard, you can always look at short courses for your employees on how to boost productivity from home.

You could refer to free courses such as  Future Learn or LinkedIn Learning (free trial) for your people, or you could look at some pay-for training courses.

Alternatively, you could create and run your own. If you have someone in your team willing to run some training on this then you could create your own short course and record it, sharing those all-important tips and tricks for driving productivity.

7. Try ‘water-cooler’ calls and virtual team lunches

Managers may have some of their own ideas of how they can engage their remote working teams, but ‘water cooler’ calls and virtual team lunches could be ones to try.

If you’re encouraging managers to give it a go, they can set up a short chat to just to check in and talk about anything non-work related. They could even create a virtual team lunch where everyone just catches up during their free time – again, non-work related.

Having these open conversations can help remote workers to feel part of the wider team and create a good relationship with fellow employees outside of the usual work chat.

8. Share wellness tips for remote teams

Everyone has their own method when working remotely but there are some helpful tips you can share to support employee wellbeing.

Some of those tips maybe as simple as encouraging employees to take their full lunch break. Did you know 20% of employees don’t take lunch breaks because they’re worried about what their manager may think?

You could also include resources on mental health wellness. With remote workers not getting any face-to-face communication with their teams, mental health wellness is important not just because it’s the right thing to focus on, but it also can affect productivity. By focusing on wellbeing at work, it can increase productivity by as much as 12%.

Include things like the contact details of your organization’s mental health first aider and any other contact details they may need for support.

Employee experiences are for everyone

Initially, it may seem that employee experiences are just for those within a physical environment but that would be wrong. Try implementing some of the above and see if people are more engaged and productive in their work.

Have you asked your people what they think of your new initiatives? It’s likely they’ll have some ideas of their own that they’ll want to share.

How can you keep your employees engaged during Covid-19? Watch the webinar led by Sage People’s Sarah Hulsey, Head of Customer Success, RSM’s Jennifer Busse, Management Consulting Director and Marni Rozen, People & Organization Management Consulting Director to learn how you can leverage your internal and external channels to engage employees.

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