With the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the number of remote employees around the world grew significantly over the past few years. Remote working surged 159 per cent in the US between 2005 and 2017, according to Flexjobs and Global Workplace Analytics. Today, remote workers represent about 3.4 per cent or 4.7 million of the US population, compared with 3.9 million in 2015.
Working from a personal comfort zone can be liberating and less stressful. But there is also evidence it may have a downside. Many organisations had no proper digital infrastructure in place as everything pivoted to digital mode, which made some employees feel disconnected. A 2018 study of 2000 managers and employees across 10 different countries by Future Workplace and Virgin Pulse, found that remote workers often feel disengaged and more likely to quit.
A simple way to keep employees engaged is to support them by way of recognition. While the crisis impacted bonus systems and financial raises in many organisations, acknowledging the work of employees can help boost their morale, strengthen the bond between management and the team, and have them know they are appreciated.
Here are some budget-friendly ways you could achieve that:
Arrange for one-on-one check-ins. With so many people around the globe losing their jobs, or loved ones, because of the pandemic, it is natural for employees to feel stressed, and even lost. That is why checking in on your employees provides an opportunity to address their concerns and offer the moral support they need. This can be as simple as a short video chat at the beginning or middle of the week to see how they are doing. Some organisations such as Financial Times, provided one-on-one counselling for their employees as well as bespoke webinars on diverse topics.
Depending on the size of your organisation, you could arrange regular individual check-ins or organise a large virtual meeting where you could provide your support, and answer any questions your team may have. I would also advise to have a virtual open-door policy in place, where employees are encouraged to come forward with any suggestions, concerns, or questions.
Recognise the work of your employees in your next virtual meeting. The recognition of their work and accomplishments internally can boost their morale. Do that in your virtual weekly meeting or set up a specific meeting to acknowledge your team’s latest efforts and let them know it is appreciated. The recognition can be to celebrate early work submissions, properly addressing a client’s concern, or honouring employees for being supportive to other team members during these difficult times.
Recognise your team publicly through social media. Depending on your industry, you could leverage social media channels to recognise your employees publicly. It would be special way for them to be able to circulate this special announcement with their friends and family. You could dedicate a special post to recognise your “Employee of the week” or “Employee of the month”.
Reward employees with professional development. Depending on the industry some employees may find they have more time on their hands which may lead to certain insecurities. Providing employees with the professional development can be uplifting and show your employees you care. Several websites offer accredited courses from leading educational institutions. As we go back to a new normal, developing new skills can come in handy and such courses help employees stay occupied, boost their mood, and make them feel productive.
There are so many lessons to be learned from this unprecedented crisis. One of them is that it is crucial to acknowledge our employees’ efforts especially during difficult times. With remote working here to stay and finding a way to cultivate a well-connected and an appreciative digital work culture is imperative.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi