Communicating with remote employees

Businesses of every shape and size are now adopting more flexible work environments.  Even before the global lock down working from home policies and compressed schedules were on the rise, with up to 70% of employees feeling that coming into the office isn’t necessary.

The strong preference for home and flexible working pre-lock down made the transition to distributed work a simple one for some organisations. Many organisations already have a somewhat distributed workforce with employees across multiple site locations.

However the transition has not been without its challenges.  A more dispersed workforce presents a number of challenges to organisations, as having employees working from many multiple locations can create additional stress on everything.  Four key challenges of a dispersed workforce include:

  1. Training & Development

Training remains critical to employee and company growth, even when teams are dispersed.  A recent survey on remote working found that 87% of remote workers want to be able to complete their training remotely.

The first issue that may arise with training a distributed workforce can be choosing the right learning platform.  Employers want to deliver consistent high-quality training to employees while keeping the learning experience positive.

This is especially important during the on-boarding period, as this when new employees decide to engage or disengage.  The main concern is how to deliver the same training to all employees when they’re not all together in the same room. A cloud-based platform that is easily accessible to all employees and keeps training centrally located could be a solution.

According to Gallup, remote employees are 31% more likely than their non-remote co-workers to feel that they could perform at their best every day.

Still, employees want feedback so they can know that they are doing well and where they could be performing better. Employees training performance should still be monitored when the workforce is dispersed so they can receive this feedback.

However, the traditional approach to performance appraisal and feedback aren’t always possible with a distributed workforce.

A good cloud based learning platform will keep managers up to speed with extensive reporting features that provide information on completion & compliance ratings.

It will also provide a basis for a feedback or coaching review between the manager and remote employees to discuss points on performance and have conversations on goal setting & career planning.

  1. Employee Engagement

Employee engagement can be challenging enough under normal circumstances

Many managers and HR teams are finding themselves in the position of having to engage a distributed workforce who are rarely in the same room as them and despite the constant connectivity, employers can go weeks or even months without actually seeing employees.

Employee engagement can be challenging enough under normal circumstances when face to face contact is part of the familiar routine. Organisations everywhere are now trying to find new ways to strengthen the employer/employee relationship.

As mentioned above, creating the loop of 360 degree feedback between employers and employees on performance also serves as a great motivator for employee engagement. Employers can coach employees to develop a set of goals or an action plan which must be completed within a certain time frame.

Allowing employees to have discussions around the areas in which they would like to improve on and allowing them to set goals around improvement gives them a sense of ownership of their roles. To be able to do this they will need to have the right tools to be able to do their jobs effectively.

If employees do not have the resources they need to be able to do their job which includes the right training & means of communication then they will quickly become actively disengaged.

  1. Communication

When employees are not all located in the same location, it may take longer for key messages to be delivered. Many employees also have difficulty with finding important information.

A recent survey found that a lack of information from management & the timeliness of the information were perceived as the biggest obstacles when working remotely.

A way management can support improved communication among members of a dispersed workforce is to actively share company news via a company branded app. An employee internal communications app allows distributed employees access to the same company news as those who are in the office at the same time.

As well as allowing for push notifications that can cut through the noise and get the message directly to who needs it in a timely manner.

  1. Culture

Organisations have put extensive amounts of effort into creating and building positive culture in general. But now they must look at ways in which to build and grow that culture with dispersed and remote teams. Creating a positive culture for remote teams takes into account all of the challenges covered already.

Great culture is the product of engagement, communication, feedback and development.

Encouraging an environment of open communication and feedback promotes transparency and allows for all remote workers to contribute. Creating new core values that align the distributed workforce with company culture can be useful when setting productivity goals and giving feedback.

Measuring employee engagement monthly or quarterly thorough the use of pulse surveys allows employees to feel like they are being heard and creates an open dialogue with employees who need to discuss any issues.

Employees want to be able to continually develop their skills, a positive learning culture can be created by allowing all employees access to continuous learning and micro learning.

Allowing access to these can meet employee needs to learn anywhere at any time and quickly have the ability to solve a problem and complete the task at hand.

Conclusion

Almost all organisations now have some sort of a distributed workforce and according to Forbes the future of work is distributed. More than three quarters of employees feel that flexible working environments increase their productivity.

Many of the challenges that arise from having employees in multiple different locations at any given times are one’s management have faced previously even when employees were all in the office.

The main key to overcoming these challenges is to have the right tools in place for distributed employees to be able to do their jobs effectively, develop themselves & communicate.


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