The close of 2020 did not signal the end of all the challenges companies and employees faced since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The main change in a growing amount of employee lives involves shifting work and home-life dynamics. According to Upwork’s “Future of Workforce Pulse Report,” one in four Americans will be working remotely during 2021, and this trend will continue to grow to reach an 87% increase compared to pre-pandemic estimations by 2025.
A remote workplace presents new challenges to employers and employees alike. Companies must shift from old strategies to better support employees in an ever-changing work environment.
1. Place Greater Importance on Social Wellbeing and Company Connectivity
Building a strong sense of community grows in importance as a key driver of engagement and productivity as the workforce continues to shift towards a remote setting. A 2020 survey from TELUS International reported that 51% of Americans working remotely during the pandemic feel less connected to their company culture. As remotely working becomes the new normal, this lack of a sense of community continues to become more prevalent. The survey identified the absence of small talk and interacting with colleagues being the primary contributor to the feeling of isolation.
Establishing and maintaining virtual support networks through:
- Daily team meetings.
- Regular manager check-ins.
- Non-work discussions.
Ensuring that your employees feel heard and connected helps to bridge the isolation gap to prevent in the remote workplace.
Companies can also promote the social wellbeing of their employees by organizing communal activities outside of standard work hours, such as:
- Companywide virtual programs (e.g., weekly yoga.)
- Cross-departmental training.
- Connecting employees with others in the same field.
2. Ensure Empathetic Leadership and Flexibility for Employees
In a turbulent employment landscape, companies must be understanding of changing employee needs. Many professionals are struggling to adjust to working during the pandemic, having to juggle home life, health concerns, and heightened work pressures. Having leadership with the ability to display authentic empathy is critical to employee morale and creating a productive workplace.
Companies should utilize the following suggestions to provide support to employees during the pandemic:
- Allowing for unconventional work hours to account for changing schedules and different time zones.
- Training management to be a sounding board for employees and listen without passing judgment.
- Understanding that many employees are struggling to juggle home and work life.
3. Workplace Culture is More Important Than Ever Before
Boosting morale for remote workers has presented a lot of challenges due to lower employee engagement and the inability to meet in person. The three key factors contributing to engagement include leadership, communication, and work–life balance. To counteract this, digital tools can be used to improve workplace culture and recognition programs, such as:
- Online rewards program that gives redeemable points for a job well done.
- Employee recognition during company-wide presentations.
- Analytics tools to help identify standout employees.
Calling attention to your great employees helps to motivate the entire company and create a positive company culture during a very uncertain time.
Check out these additional W3LL blogs to further understand additional steps to support your employees during and beyond 2021.