…managing remote teams. Numerous surveys of CEOs have found that the C-Suite and upper management at many companies are struggling to maintain productivity levels among remote teams. This makes perfect sense, since many businesses were forced to adopt remote learning out of necessity due to precautions over covid. Remote working isn’t something that many companies can embrace and see seamless results. But unfortunately, many businesses didn’t have a choice in 2020, and were thrown into the fire and had to adopt and adapt to remote work for their teams as quickly as possible.
Add in that many companies had to layoff or furlough employees as cost-savings measures, and it often made the remote work environment even harder for businesses to manage.
Remote work affects extroverts and introverts differently
As your business is reviewing your options for keeping your remote workers engaged and productive, don’t overlook how being isolated at home can impact the mental health of your workers based on them being extroverts or introverts. Suddenly being forced to work from home for months or even a year can be a bit depressing to all your workers. But keep in mind that your more extroverted workers thrive off in-person contact and collaboration. With that suddenly being taken away from them, it creates a negative impact on feelings, and can even lead to depression. On the other hand, taking introverted workers from an in-office work environment and having them work remotely, may actually increase their productivity. So if some of your newly remote workers seem to be less productive, consider that maybe they are extroverts who are simply missing the in-person contact and collaboration that they thrived off of.
Remote work is here to stay
Recently, Buffer surveyed remote workers to find out what they thought of the process. There were some interesting takeaways that your company should be aware of. Such as:
- Almost 98% of respondents said they want to continue to work remotely, at least part time, for the rest of their working careers
- 97% of respondents would recommend working remotely to others
What this means is that from this point forward, when your company courts candidates for open positions, those candidates will want, and likely expect, that you offer them the possibility of working remotely. If you can’t offer candidates remote work in most positions, it will begin to become a detriment for your company. Obviously, some jobs can only be done in-person and on site. But there are many jobs where you may want the candidate to be on location at all times, that could actually be done remotely, if necessary. You need to consider that starting now, it’s become necessary to offer a remote option for any work that can be done remotely. Not offering a remote option for such work will cost you qualified candidates to competitors that can offer them such possibilities.
Remote workers are facing difficulties
Remote work comes with some issues for both the employer, and the remote employees. According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work in 2021, some of the issues that remote workers identified as problems include:
- Not being able to unplug – 27%
- Difficulty collaborating and communicating with co-workers – 16%
- Loneliness – 16%
- Staying motivated 12%
These difficulties that remote workers are facing seem to overlap a bit with the concerns that CEOs have toward remote workers, don’t they? CEOs are worried about managing remote workers and keeping them productive and engaged. While remote workers are facing difficulty collaborating with co-workers and loneliness. And I think a lack of motivation can tie into those feelings of loneliness and struggling to collaborate and communicate with your team.
All of this points back to finding ways to better communicate and engage your remote workers. This seems to be a problem that runs through multiple issues that both workers and management face.
First, consider again if you are dealing with introverts or extroverts as your remote workers. Introverted workers are more likely to enjoy working remotely and the autonomy that comes with it. You may likely see their productivity actually increase. On the other hand, you may see the opposite for extroverts that are suddenly put in a position of working remotely. Extroverts thrive off in-person contact are likely more productive and happier with their work when it involves in-person collaboration. So you will need to think about how you can work with them to help facilitate the interaction with their co-workers that they are missing with remote work.
Consider adding ways for workers to engage outside of work
One of the best things your company can do to build morale and keep your employees motivated is to give them ways to engage with each other outside of work. We become more productive when we actually like the people we work with. Focus on finding ways to facilitate engagement among your workers and time for them to be social that doesn’t revolve around their work.
Some ways to do this could include:
- Slack channels devoted to any topic OTHER than work
- Facebook groups devoted to non-work topics
- Zoom birthday parties for co-workers
- Organizing online gatherings for workers such as playing games together online, participating in hobbies such as sports, genealogy,
Another option is to create an Employee Advocacy/Ambassador Program that can contain some or all of these elements. Such programs are designed to allow your employees to promote your business to customers and potential candidates, but it can also be used to keep your employees engaged and motivated.
GE created an employee ambassador program to recruit better job candidates
I did a write-up on GE’s employee ambassador program two years ago here. This particular program was focused on helping GE better promote its brand and working environment to potential job candidates. But the employees who were involved in the program became more engaged and excited about working for GE. We all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We all want to feel useful and that we are playing a role in something important.
And I think an employee ambassador program helps your employees better understand what your business is doing and why its important. Let’s be honest, if your workers understand your company’s mission and the positive impact it makes on the world, that motivates them to work harder on your behalf. Too many people hate their jobs mainly because they feel as if their work doesn’t have a higher purpose or meaning. On the other hand, if you believe that your business is making a positive impact on the world, it motivates you to work harder to see that impact take hold.
Adopt a proactive mindset toward remote work
Since remote work is now a reality for business, embrace it as an opportunity to grow. How can you incorporate remote work into your company’s culture in order to improve it? What are the opportunities to leverage remote work as a way to actually increase productivity? We’ve already talked about how offering and embracing remote work could help the hiring process. Another example is your company’s annual retreat. Having your teams meet in-person for the first time in months or possibly even a year could have a huge positive impact on bonding, communication and culture.
Remote work is here to stay, so embrace it as a potential asset to your business, not as a problem to be dealt with.