The impact of long-term remote work is far-reaching, with the potential to permanently change how business is conducted. As many employees are entering their sixth month of remote work, how you manage your workforce is as important now as it was when we abruptly went home in the spring. Your specific response will depend on your culture, employees and nature of your work. Paying close attention to your ongoing plan will aid in keeping employees engaged and in your company’s overall success.

Generational Responses to Remote Work

As you build your long-term remote plan, analyze your demographics and generational composition, tailoring your approach accordingly. A study conducted this spring showed surprising trends as to how each generation responds to remote work.

Generation Z and Millennials reportedly felt drained from work in higher levels (47% and 43%, respectively). While Millennials reported feeling more productive at home, Gen Z preferred to only work remotely 33% of the time. Additionally, 85% of Gen Z respondents preferred in-person learning opportunities, and only 11% thought video conference meetings were as effective as in-person meetings. Both groups preferred a well-informed manager.

Generation X and Baby Boomers reported lower numbers of feeling emotionally drained from work (32% and 29%, respectively). Gen X felt remote work fostered better communication and trust between co-workers and managers, and 41% prefer to continue remote work after the pandemic. Both groups preferred a candid manager.

Evaluating your employee base is a key place to begin your remote workplace strategy since a wide range of approaches will need to be executed in tandem to foster culture across the organization. In addition to using public data, surveying your employees on their thoughts toward remote work and what they need in a manager gives you a firm platform for creating a remote plan.

Balancing Productivity, Culture and Life

As remote work continues, focus on ways to equip, not penalize, your teams.

Parents

With school in session, parents continue to juggle abnormal responsibilities, managing childcare, school work, personal lives and work. Where possible, provide options for parents. Some employers are opting for flexibility in hours, discounts for tutoring, parenting groups for employees with similar-aged children and access to additional online resources. If managers are concerned about increased flexibility in hours, remember the bonuses. If employees can begin earlier or work later, their hours of operation increase, and parents may feel less stressed by creating a schedule that works for their family.

Productivity Models

Former standards of work may not fit the remote workplace. Sitting at a desk for eight hours may be challenging for remote workers who previously relied on manager pressure, team dynamics, appearance-based performance or comradery to motivate for work. A key to improving work productivity in a remote environment is to encourage adaptability and resilience in working methods.

Equip your employees to try new productivity methods, like the Pomodoro Technique, The Daily Trifecta or Bullet Journaling. Create times where teams can share what has and has not worked to helped productivity.

Additionally, evaluate if your team needs to adopt or switch project management tools. Project management tools with time, task and goal tracking features provide deeper insight into your team’s project load, who is and is not meeting deadlines, and how teams and individuals are progressing to key goals. Popular project management tools include Monday.com, Trello, SmartSheet, ClickUp, LiquidPlanner and Asana.

Lead by Example

Continually train your leadership team in remote working best-practices. Set expectations and standards around working hours, taking time off, recognizing employees, identifying potential performance issues, opening communication lines and how managers can offer flexibility.

Employees look to managers and leadership for cues, so thoughtfully decide how you will handle child interruptions, mental health, productivity challenges and other personal issues that may appear more often in a remote environment.

Creating and Improving Remote Culture

At the six-month mark, organizations ideally have fully adjusted to remote work and can shift focus to creating a healthy and productive remote culture. Here are suggestions to foster a better remote work culture.

  1. Encourage transparency. This includes leaders sharing pertinent details, leading by example and opening the door for meaningful conversations.
  2. Establish guidelines, policies and expectations for remote work. This provides employees a framework for success and gives guidance for high-achieving and low-performing employees.
  3. Build an events calendar. Examples include virtual events, trivia, game rooms, town halls and happy hours.
  4. Establish regular rituals, such as weekly meetings, one-on-ones with managers or peers, bi-weekly check-ins or team ice breakers. These rhythms provide structure, accountability and social connection for employees.
  5. Set up cross-department events so teams can meet each other and build connections.
  6. Seek regular feedback from leaders, managers and employees.
  7. Create mentorship or buddy programs.
  8. Encourage healthy behaviors, such as sleep, exercise and meditation.
  9. Find additional ideas to spur on culture and well-being.

What is Next?

Take inventory of employees’ needs and overall well-being, then start designing a plan that begins with leadership. Test out what resonates with employees and encourage teams to try and share what is and is not working for each team.

Finally, remember employees are juggling much more than working remotely. Here are three next steps to think beyond remote workplace culture.

  1. Evaluate if your health plan is robust enough for a pandemic.
  2. Improve your communication for a virtual open enrollment to build a cohesive, meaningful experience that aligns with your company culture.
  3. Use our Return to the Workplace Toolkit if your workplace is shifting from remote to in-person work.

If your company needs assistance in remote resources, returning to the workplace or bolstering your employee benefits program, fill out the form below to connect with a Hays expert.


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